Tag Archives: Arcola Queer Collective

The Cluedo Club Killings – 3 Stars


The Cluedo Club Killings

King’s Head Theatre

Reviewed – 29th July 2018


“Robert Holtom’s admirable script does keep the audience guessing”


An open coffin dominates the space. Dr Black, recently deceased, lies inside, resting in peace. There’s been a murder, “a most grave affair”… Thus begins Arcola Queer Collective’s unique theatrical attempt at redefining the murder mystery genre. Directed by Nat Kennedy, the show is fun, frivolous and a little bit naughty, creating an enticing crime fiction plot whilst simultaneously reconfiguring the symbolism that make the genre so watchable.

The titular student-ran Cluedo Club regularly meet to dress up in colour-coded character and play everyone’s favourite murder mystery board game. But one night, a power cut disrupts the fooling around, and Reverend Green’s body is found stabbed with a knife in the kitchen. Whodunnit? What secrets are the Cluedo Club trying to hide? Enter Miss Marple wannabe Esther Jones to solve the case using her extensive knowledge of crime fiction to whittle down the suspects. Robert Holtom’s admirable script does keep the audience guessing, and the layering of fictional tropes atop of a real-life crime means the audience learn, guess and deduce with Esther throughout. Some witty one-liners (“Watch out for any lead piping!”) pepper the script, and its overstated, over-the-top style is taken on well by the ensemble. Holtom has almost created a sub-genre of their own – is this the beginning of a queer crime series?

Each character is thoughtfully established and a treat to watch. Despite some shake-y, student-y performances, Jones is by far the strongest played character, both committed to the ham whilst still adhering to character. Lacking perhaps in space, the transitions between scenes could do with some work, but generally speaking, Nat Kennedy creates a coherent and consistent piece of work where each actor knows exactly what they are there for.

Where Holtom’s script fails is the botched climactic reveal, and the unnecessary dip into ‘preachy theatre land’. The former feels rushed and confused; the latter asking the audience (who, by the way, have chosen to come to the King’s Head Theatre on a Sunday as part of Queer Season) to dwell for a moment on the negative (underrepresentation of queer lives in the arts) they surely already know exists. Trust your audience to get the message without ramming it down their throats and let them enjoy seeing queer lives on stage rather than preaching that they do so.

All in all, this is a fabulous piece and a good bit of fun, as any good murder mystery should be, leaving this reviewer at least, guessing until the end.


Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

Photography by Ali Wright


The Cluedo Club Killings

King’s Head Theatre



Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com



Fine and Dandy – 5 Stars


Fine and Dandy

Arcola Theatre

Reviewed – 26th February 2018


“a well matched and skilled ensemble who clearly enjoy the challenges presented by playing a huge range of character”


This wonderful tale of the adventures of Ernest Faigele Fine is a gender fluid delight, and should be prescribed for anyone who needs a joyous evening of laughter. Sue Frumin’s play began its life in 1999 as a one person show and has been developed with the Arcola Queer Collective into an energetic, hilarious romp.

The cast of ten almost all play multiple roles, and swap from one to the other with fast paced alacrity. They are a well matched and skilled ensemble who clearly enjoy the challenges presented by playing a huge range of characters that include a snake and God! Rach Skyer is so engaging as Ernest that the whole audience was rooting for them to find their way in life, to get to New York and become a great entertainer. To be truly Fine and Dandy.

There were some fabulous slapstick moments and a real poignancy, some villains and some heroes. And an audience that included quite a few reviewers roaring with laughter.

Jonathan Richardson’s direction is assured and has a lovely light touch. In the program notes they say ‘I like to make theatre which holds to the principle that a beautiful lie is far more important than the truth.’ They have certainly achieved that with this play. It has the lightness of a fairy tale and the energy of a farce, and is a celebration of Queerness that you could happily bring your children to.

The set is basic, with hanging curtains, trunks and a coffin forming most of it, and the many costumes are perfectly designed to allow super fast changes and support the characters they clothe. From the moment the audience enters, the atmosphere of a seemingly chaotic circus arriving in town is established, as characters flap about, argue, rearrange the ‘furniture’ and generally create the world of the play as people take their seats. Then the house lights go down and a genuinely mirthful and exuberant hour ensues. I was humming ‘Misery Farm’ all the way home.

I hope that this show has a life after its short run at the Arcola. It deserves to carry on and take the tale of ‘Ernest/Ernestine Faigele Fine, a singer of cheap ballads and weary tunes, inventor of the worst magic acts in history, a clog dancer of no particular skill and a wandering jew at the turn of the twentieth century’ to a wider audience.

Reviewed by Katre

Photography by Ali Wright


Fine and Dandy

Arcola Theatre until 2nd March



Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com