IBW’s “Clue” is a Good Time


Miles Meschter (he/him), Staff Writer

Clue was released to the Ida B. Wells community this past Friday after months of preparation by the school’s Southwest Stageworks. The mystery-comedy is a stage rendition of the old film based on the board game of the same name. The film was written and directed by John Landis (known for Animal House, Blues Brothers, and Three Amigos) and stars iconic actors, including Tim Curry. After being released by Paramount Pictures in 1985 it was received poorly at the box office, yet it has since become a beloved cult-classic.

The show takes the same colorful cast, quick-witted dialogue, and chaotic plot to an intimate production. The audience enjoys a close-up view of the cast as they navigate their way through the two-storied mansion to stay alive and deliberate who is the true killer. The main cast is a loud, entertaining collection of a doltish military colonel, Orie Zadok, the arrogant psychologist, Aspen Trout, the ostentatious senator’s wife, Joeyy Whitaker, the clumsy businessman, Conner Alexander, the pompous escort service lady, Cass Beleele, the reserved five-time widow, Savy Carey, and the leading butler, Ian Lafrenz.

Wadsworth, played by Ian Lafrenz, serves as the main group’s leader in setting the situation for the eventful evening. His dedicated performance is evident as he takes the lead in fast conversation in nearly every scene. Of particular impression is when, in order to retrace steps, Wadsworth re-enacts every event of the night in an impressive run. Each cast member handles the back-forth, overlapping dialogue with ease, never losing the audience’s track. The characters are also entirely embodied on stage with constant facial expressions and body posture throughout the performance.

Comedic and engaging performances were also seen in the supporting cast including the french maid, Molly Kodesch, mansion cook, Marissa Margolin, Mr. Body, Corinna Murdock, motorist, Dory Black, policeman, Eden Evans, police chief, Marina Morton, and the singing telegram lady, Sebastian Evens, who, after a brief appearance, manages to lay dead on stage for a third of the play. 

The mansion stage allows for a balance between actor imagination and infrastructure. The main conflicts take place at the audience’s level in front of a fireplace decorated with paintings, a radio, and table. The fireplace also pulls out a couch chair behind the curtain for the lounge room scenes. Beside the fireplace, a stairway leads to the upstairs stage where there are three opening doors. The ensemble makes use of their physical surroundings but also effectively uses the open stage to differentiate different rooms and barriers. The audience is immersed into this set up, with the entrance to the mansion built into the seating area. Early attendees who sit in the front row will be sure to see live action up close.

Especially with a limited space, scene transitions into different areas can sometimes interrupt the flow of the plot as props and materials are moved. Clue handles the scene transitions smoothly, never interrupting the pace of the story. In the darkness, the french maid quickly brings in the props as would be expected in house servants at a real mansion dinner party, and the lights are then swiftly turned on again for the next scene. 

Stage lighting was handled well by lighting designer, Josh Hauser, turning black in the moments where power was lost in the mansion from the storm. Or in the multifaceted ending where the scene is repeated fast-forwarded back in time, the backwards effect is shown by a colorful light display and rewinding tape sound effects. The sound system is also utilized effectively in the beginning of the play, where the maid is seen preparing for the guests while the vintage radio broadcasts news. The news narration (given by a student) is an entertaining historical report that syncs with the scene.

Clue is a successful theatrical adaptation of the 1985 movie, providing colorful chaos and witty comedy to audiences. The plot is a perfect combination of an intriguing murder mystery with black comedy, creating a highly entertaining play. Technical and stage works were thoughtfully used in keeping viewer’s immersed in the action. Center to the production, the leading cast fully fill their characters and dominate the stage with their unique personalities. This memorable theater experience makes it a must-see for everyone who appreciates a fun story. Tickets remain on sale and the show is available to the public until November 19th.