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Classic Mystery Game
by Katy Keating
Directed by Katy Keating
SATE Ensemble Theatre
February 1, 2019

Cast of Classic Mystery Game
Photo by Joey Rumpell
SATE Ensemble Theatre

Do you like board games? Murder mysteries? Fast paced, high-energy comedy? Well, if you do, SATE has a “Clue” for you! Classic Mystery Game is writer-director Katy Keating’s parody of the well-known mystery game, Clue, as well as a tribute to the 1985 film based on the game. In the capable, creative hands of Keating and the cast and crew at SATE, it’s a fast-paced, highly physical examination of 21st century American culture as well as a riff on the classic style of the game.

Ostensibly based on the movie, this play is more based on the game itself, with a fair amount of local and topical references thrown in, including an opening video sequence that features the performance venue, the Chapel. Staged on the floor at the Chapel with the audience seated on the stage, the cast performs before a large painted replica of the Clue board. Bess Moynihan’s set design is especially clever, with that board featuring the rooms with lights around them that light up as each room is featured in the story, and a versatile set consisting of furniture and a movable door that is moved around as needed. Costume designer Liz Henning has outfitted the characters in colorful, vaguely 1950s-ish style, and Ben Lewis’s lighting helps highlight the ominous, comically haunting atmosphere. There’s also excellent work from props designers Rachel Tibbetts and Bess Moynihan, as well as fight choreographer Ryan Lawson-Maeske. The sights, sounds, and atmosphere are all set remarkably well, setting the stage for Keating’s witty, rapid-fire dialogue and fast-paced action as butler Wadsworth (Michael Cassidy Flynn) introduces the story and serves as narrator while participating in the story as well.

This is a hilarious show, with a spirit reminiscent of old-time sketch comedy shows. All the regular characters from the game are here–Col. Mustard (Carl Overly, Jr.), Mrs. White (Ellie Schwetye), Mrs. Peacock (Rachel Tibbetts), Mr. Green (WIll Bonfiglio), Prof. Plum (Paul Cereghino), and Miss Scarlet (Maggie Conroy), along with Mr. Boddy (Reginald Pierre) and two “clowns” (Marcy Ann Wiegert, Bess Moynihan) who play a variety of roles each. The styling of the show serves the story especially well, with the flat cut-out glasses used for cocktails, and the representations of the weapons from the game. Everything moves very quickly, with a story that touches on conspiracy, government cover-ups, secrets and lies, and lots and lots of scheming, as the characters assemble under a pretence, and then are driven to search throughout the house for clues once a murder occurs. Well, once the first murder occurs. Yes, there are more murders, and more surprises, a series of revelations and lots and lots of jokes. There’s wordplay and innuendo, along with physical comedy, sight gags and more as the story continues on its rapid pace until its suitably hilarious conclusion. I won’t give any more details, because that will spoil the fun. And fun, it certainly is.

The performances are strong across the board, and everyone has standout moments, with Flynn as the obvious MVP for his fully realized, energetic comic performance. This is a performance that’s sure to take a lot of energy, and Flynn plays his role well. Everyone else is also excellent and it’s difficult to single anyone out. Everyone is their own unique, distinctive character, and everyone shows incredible energy and superb comic timing. It’s an ensemble show worthy of a theatre company where “Ensemble” has always been front and center.

Classic Mystery Game is Clue with a side of whimsy and snark. It’s topical, timely, and timeless all the same, and with so many jokes that, if you miss one, you’ll probably catch the next one.¬†As is usual for SATE, this show is offbeat, excellently performed, and not to be missed.

Cast of Classic Mystery Game
Photo by Joey Rumpell
SATE Ensemble Theatre

SATE Ensemble Theatre is presenting Classic Mystery Game at the Chapel until February 16, 2019

 

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