Finding a “Clue” at the Alley Theatre

If it’s summer, the Alley Theatre is offering one of their “Summer Chills” programs, and this year’s production was “Clue,” a play that is based on both the 1985 film and the board game. The result was a madcap hour and a half of hilarity, made even more enjoyable by the fact that many LEAP Ambassador alumni joined us for the festivities.

At least two of the students had never seen a live play, so this was new for them. But even those who had seen live theatre were unlikely to have seen a play of this sort: it was frenetic, screwball, a surreal in equal measure–think the Marx Brothers starring in an Agatha Christie play.

The play began with a minimal set, but the spareness of the set permitted quick transformations, allowing the audience to experience a library, a billiard room, a lounge, and a study.

Of course, the sets contained secret doors, a dangerous chandelier, and lights that flickered in a storm. It was, after all, a dark and stormy night…

And, of course, there was the well-known characters: Professor Plum, Colonel Mustard, Miss Scarlet, Mrs. Peacock, Mr. Green, and Mrs. White–each with a mysterious past. Ms. White, for example, seem to marry men who wound up dead. When asked how many husbands she had, she responded, “My own? Or other women’s husbands?”

Along with these typical characters, there was Wadsworth (the butler), Yvette (the maid), and an equally hapless cook and singing telegram singer. And, of course, Mr. Body, who died not once, but twice. There was also a police officer, an “unexpected police officer,” a “backup police officer,” and a driver of a broken-down car. Put these together, along with numerous corpses, and you have quite enough of a murder mystery.

But the mystery was secondary: the primary action was the comedy. Yvette was a prancing, jiggling exhibitionist; Colonel Mustard was painfully, comically slow; Mrs. Peacock was an elderly tippler; Mr. Green was delightfully clumsy; and yet it was Wadsworth that was the star of the show.

Collectively, they went through slow motion reenactments of deaths; performed live-action imaginings of alternative universes; and Wadsworth completed a one-man reenactment of the entire play in about four minutes.. And all of this happened while the cast drew upon “And Then There Were None,” the “Clue” Board Game (at one point, using the board as a map to the “house”), borrowed Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” from “Modern Times,” while also parodying “Gone with the Wind” and “Casablanca”–as in, “Of all the board games, in all the world, he has to walk in to mine.”

To extend the Casablanca theme, it was an afternoon that continued beautiful friendships. Bianca Saldierna (SHSU 18), Will Phillips (SHSU 13), Deanna Youngblood (SHSU 13), and Brian Aldaco (SHSU 18)–along with some significant others–joined us for the fun and caught up on old times.

The LEAP Ambassadors would like to thank all the LEAP and Junior Fellows alumni who helped develop a wonderful program and continue to support SHSU and LEAP! Additional notes: Dr. Robert Donahoo, Professor of English and Drama at SHSU, wrote a wonderful review of the play here, and Melissa Pritchett, who played “Yvette,” is an SHSU alum!

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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