A queered-up take on the murder mystery, The Cluedo Club Killings makes the most of a brief new run at the King’s Head Theatre
“I know whodunnit”
The King’s Head Theatre’s six-week Queer Season has allowed for all sorts of LGBTQI+ stories to be told but one of its more pleasing aspects has been the flexibility in the programming, offering opportunities for smaller productions to emerge once again. Guy: a new musical will be popping back to London and after a well-received run at the Arcola earlier this year, Robert Holtom’s The Cluedo Club Killings similarly took the chance to spread its wings once again.
A queered-up take on the murder mystery designed to take on “the cis-het sausage fest” of Morse, Poirot et al, Nat Kennedy’s production is an enjoyably daft thing and is at its best when it fully embraces the glitter-soaked camp and ridiculous OTT-ness at its heart. Stabs of dun-dun-duh music, a shattered fourth wall, lesbian wannabe detective leads, scorchingly funny TV reporters, and a post-modern take on not just detective stories but horror film too – what more could you want.
The Cluedo Club is a university society who meet up to cosplay their way from the library with the lead piping to the conservatory with the candlestick. But when their game gets a little too immersive and Reverend Green actually gets knifed in the kitchen, psychology student Esther (an appealing Natasha Sophia Brown) decides to live out her best Jane Tennison life, accompanied reluctantly by fellow student Stu who would much rather be finishing off his essay, though he soon perks up when he sees an opportunity to flirt with the glitter-bearded Mx Peacock, aka Frank.
It’s fun and light-hearted (Pippa Sa’s reporter is ingeniously well done, superb delivery) and yet there’s still something so compelling about seeing queer lives being represented so unproblematically, that brings a real weight to proceedings. With barely an hour to play with, Holtom’s final act feels a little bit rushed and as twists and turns unfold, it would be good to let them play out dramatically with a tad more subtlety than the heavy-handed treatment they get here in order to rush to the end. Still, an enjoyable treat and well worth looking out for if it pops up again.