Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Board game's switch to stage anything but boring


One of many bodies hits the floor in Hillbarn's "Clue." (Mark and Tracy Photography)

Thunder, lightning and the sound of barking dogs precede the arrival of six dinner guests in “Clue: On Stage,” presented by Hillbarn Theatre.

Sandy Rustin’s stage adaptation is based on the 1985 screenplay by Jonathan Lynn, who was inspired by the board game.

The guests don’t know each other, nor do they know who their host is or why they’re locked in that gloomy New England mansion.

What they do have in common is that they all live or work in Washington, D.C., in 1954 during the red scare.

Miss Scarlet (Maria Marquis) is a high-class madam. Mrs. Peacock (J. Conrad Frank in drag) is married to a senator.

Mrs. White (Hayley Lovgren) has probably murdered a string of husbands. Col. Mustard (Mohamed Ismail) works in the Pentagon.

Professor Plum (Jay Thulien) is a psychologist who has lost his license. Mr. Green (Steve Allhoff) is a gay Republican.

Also part of the scenario is Yvette (Jocelyn Pickett), the French maid.

It soon turns out that each guest is being blackmailed by their host, Mr. Boddy (Jesse Cortez). Each is given a weapon and told to kill the butler, Wadsworth (Miyaka Pical Cochrane). Otherwise, they’ll have to pay double.

Before the evening is over, several people die, and Mr. Boddy’s real identity is revealed.

In trying to discover the killer or killers as well as the evidence that Mr. Boddy has against them, the guests search the mansion’s maze of rooms and endure the occasional power outage.

All of this occurs amid one comic moment after another with puns galore.

Dan Demers, Hillbarn’s former artistic director, oversees the mayhem. For the most part the actors in his ensemble cast capture their characters’ strong emotions without overdoing it. The result is lots of laughs.

Eric Olson’s set, Sophia Craven’s lighting and Sheraj Ragoobeer’s sound help to create the mysterious mood, while Pamela Lampkin’s costumes are well suited for each character.

Running just under 90 minutes with no intermission, “Clue” will continue through June 19 at Hillbarn Theatre, 1285 E. Hillsdale Blvd., Foster City.

For tickets and information, call (650) 349-6411, Ext. 2, or visit www.hillbarntheatre.org.