Stage version of ‘Clue’ gets silly at SF Playhouse

Some pieces of pop culture win love to death, are repeated and rewatched so often that they become like worn records – still playable, but no longer as bright as they once were.

I don’t want it to be like this Hook, a 1985 film by underrated British comedy director Jonathan Lynn, who also co-wrote the screenplay. It remains a master class in comic timing and good old fast patter with a dash of slapstick, and it was performed by a team of professionals who would be impossible to replicate ever again – Madeleine Kahn, Leslie Ann Warren, Martin Mull, Christopher. Lloyd, Michael McKean, Tim Curry and Eileen Brennan. Although the film was not a box office success, the film received wide distribution on cable television and VHS in later years, becoming a beloved cult classic.

A Hook A remake is in the works with Ryan Reynolds and it will be painful enough. By all accounts, awful Clue – Musical premiered far off-Broadway in the 90s with no connection to Lynn’s script, and YouTube data suggests it was a community theater favorite. But in 2017, a couple of playwrights saw fit to adapt Lynn’s film for the off-Broadway stage—mostly verbatim, with some additional material thrown in to make the opening and closing scenes work on stage. And this season, SF Playhouse released it, probably for ticket sales, in a known quantity with a built-in audience.

In the spirit of drag queens reenacting episodes golden girls And Women design, Hookthe stage version is a mostly faithful reconstruction of extremely familiar material, with characters imitating the original performers and a dash of overt camp.

The stage performance is no doubt fun for some viewers who temper their expectations, but it takes away from the charm of the 1985 film more than it adds anything new – although perhaps with a little time lag, the silly reworked final sequence could have earned more. some fresh laughter.

Wadworth (Dorian Lockett), Mrs. Peacock (Stacey Ross), Miss Scarlet (Courtney Walsh), Mrs. White (Renee Rogoff), Colonel Mustard (Michael Ray Weisley) and Mr. Green (Greg Ayers) hover over a body in the theater’s “Clue” performance San Francisco Playhouse from March 9 to April 22. Photo by Jessica Palopoli.

As Wadsworth’s butler, Dorian Lockett does an admirable job of leading most of the action, although he gets the unenviable job of trying to rival the great Tim Curry in an impossibly fast, breathless monologue summarizing the evening’s events and murders that very few could hope to succeed. Veteran Bay Area actress Stacey Ross feels mostly wasted as Mrs. Peacock, and Michael Ray Weisley arguably does the best job of laughing as bumbling Colonel Mustard.

The toy set, designed by Heather Kenyon, is arguably the real star of the show, unfolding and folding to represent half a dozen different rooms in Boddy’s mansion.

Director Susie Damilano entertains herself by directing the main cast of seven on a small stage, and she keeps the show moving along—it runs under 90 minutes with no intermission. But in the key realm of quick chatter and witty banter, the timing often feels wrong.

random fans Hook those looking for a live reenactment to scratch their itch should find plenty to like and laugh at in this production. And I don’t envy SF Playhouse for wanting easy public success after three years when the pandemic wiped out their ticket revenue and interrupted several shows. But warn diehard fans that you may miss Madeleine Kahn.

The Clue runs through April 22 at the SF Playhouse, 450 Post Street. Find tickets here.

Top photo of Jessica Palopoli

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