Arts and Entertainment Editor: Kamryn Kobel
From February 24th through 26th, UMass Dartmouth’s own 20 Cent Fiction presented three showings of the board game-turned-movie-turned-stage performance, Clue.
20 Cent’s production was a murder mystery/comedy mashup that kept the audience laughing and wondering – “but how did it really happen?”
Many people know Clue as the classic murder-mystery board game. The game includes iconic character names, such as the infamous Colonial Mustard and Professor Plum.
The game works like this: Each player chooses a character to represent them within the game. Then the murderer, the murder weapon, and the location of the murder are all chosen blindly and at random before the game starts. Players must then conduct a process-of-elimination style investigation to uncover who the murderer is and the other details of the crime.
Due to the way the game works, the ending is never the same – the murderer, the murder weapon, and the murder location change every time you play. So, in this edge-of-your-seat translation to screen, this movie is able to mirror those ever-changing endings.
The movie was then transformed into a stage play written by Sandy Rustin. The fun campiness of the film translates well onto the stage, as was exemplified by the astounding actors of 20 Cent.
This performance could not have been cast any more perfectly. Each actor perfectly embodied their character.
Tyler Murphy, the sophomore computer science major who played the butler, Wadsworth, kept up a perfect air of mystery and intrigue as he guided the various guests through the unfolding events of the evening.
Murphy put up a convincing British accent and a fabulous physical performance during the scene where he recreates each murder in a humorous recap of the plot towards the end of the performance.
Even more impressive is that it was Murphy’s first time acting with 20 Cent!
Senior art history major Caitlyn Haley, who played Mrs. Peacock, could not have been a better fit for the role.
She portrayed Mrs. Peacocks’ haughty yet anxious personality with style and conviction. Her humor was spot on, too– her screams as Mrs. Peacock found the first dead body of the night were laugh-out-loud perfection.
Haley’s presence on stage was commanding yet hilarious.
Leah Dunn, a junior communications major, expertly encapsulated the role of Colonel Mustard.
Dunn was a genius when it came to comedy. She conveyed the Colonial’s oblivious humor with such conviction that you couldn’t help but see her as anything but the misguided, self-assured military man.
Dunn’s comedic timing and line delivery were impeccable.
A major part of the performance’s comedy and intrigue was the sound production. Not a beat was missed, as each plot point or joke was met with either a trill of curiosity or a dramatic silence that highlighted what was occurring on stage.
The staging and props, overseen by Staging Manager Aidan Sullivan, were an absolute feat. An essential part of Clue is the location of the murder, so various rooms must be represented on stage.
This performance included each of these rooms, including the library, the study, the billiards room, and the kitchen, by utilizing backdrops that had multiple faces. When the stage crew spun the backdrops around, they were able to convey different rooms using different faces.
This performance of Clue was Sullivan’s first experience working as a stage manager, as he typically acts. “This time, I had to be stage manager first and actor second. I was anxious, but I thought we could do it, and we did it! I had that confidence in us,” he said.
And that confidence wasn’t misplaced, as the set delivered exactly what it needed to, which is impressive with such a complex method of stage setting.
This performance of Clue was directed by senior writing major Jillian Yates. This was Yate’s first time directing a performance.
“When you’re a director, the jitters before the show are different from the jitters you get as an actor. Once it’s showtime, everything is out of my hands and up to the actors and stage crew,” said Yates. “There are always difficulties when putting on a production, but being able to work with these actors makes it easier. They are the embodiment of their characters, and everyone gets along really well.”
This sentiment showed not only throughout the production but also before the curtains rose as the cast gave a heartfelt thank-you to Yates.
Emily Fontes, the president of 20 Cent Fiction and who played a fabulous Mr. Green, led the thanks as she gave a speech. Fontes, along with the rest of the cast and crew, expressed their thanks and gratitude for Yates’ devotion and leadership.
Flowers were given, hugs were exchanged, and tears were shed before everyone got into character to put on an incredible production of Clue.
And that’s how it really happened!