Adelaide Fringe

Fringe Review: Inspector Cluedo and the Curse of the Darjeeling Diamond

On the anniversary of her husband’s death, Lady Agatha’s diamond necklace goes missing and it’s up to bumbling Inspector Cluedo to solve the case.

A lyrical nod to the detective genre and board games!

Reviewed at the Irish Club on 23 February 2019

Presented by Upstate Theatre Inc.

Theft abounds, and it’s both witnessed and heard in Upstage Theatre’s lastest foray into the ridiculous.

Specialising in adult musical comedies and children’s pantomimes, Upstage Theatre has been a stalwart of the Adelaide theatre scene for more than 20 years, providing light-hearted entertainment that’s built to travel, often resulting in the company gracing the stages of both metropolitan and regional areas. The troupe combines professional and amateur performers which makes most shows a little uneven, but their sense of fun is real and infectious. It’s hard not to have a good time.

Inspector Cluedo and the Curse of the Darjeeling Diamond is a nod to several classic detective films of a bygone era, from The Pink Pather to Hercule Poirot. The scene is set in the crumbling home of Lady Agatha Carbuncle on the anniversary of her husband’s death – it’s the one day of the year she wears her priceless Darjeeling Diamonds. It was also the day her dog died. As Lady Agatha’s party takes flight, the precious diamonds disappear from around her neck and it’s up to bumbling Inspector Cluedo to find the culprit.

The flimsy plot strings together a number of songs, primarily clever parodies of popular musicals that have been reworded to fit the scene. The audience are party guests and, while there’s no participation beyond a singalong, the cast do address them directly at times. The audience is also invited to guess the culprit over interval by completing a questionnaire.

Some of the characters are a scream. Bronwyn Calvett’s drunken Lady Agatha is divine, as is her singing voice. Movie star Diamond Solitaire (Linda Lawson) is in equally fine voice and hams it up nicely, although not as much as Deirdre Quinn who often steals her scenes as the smart-arse Cockney maid, Ruby. Benjamin Bath somehow manages to add dignity and stillness to the frivolity as the wonderfully proper butler, while John Martin’s incompetent Inspector Cluedo, with his poor grasp of English, gets the bulk of the laughs. Ellie Miles and Stephen Popowski complete the human cast as Lady Agatha’s companion and a priest respectively, with poor Barnabus the dog barely visible at Lady Agatha’s feet.

The dialogue could be tighter and would be best delivered to each other instead of always out to the audience. There’s no need to step forward for every line, particularly when the cast are already very aware of their surroundings and avoid masking each other. This is a presentation style however, and the troupe is consistent which is what’s important for the directorial choices to make sense.

Inspector Cluedo and the Curse of the Darjeeling Diamond may not be the jewel in the crown in Upstage Theatre’s repertoire, but it is 90 minutes of laughs and a return to simple, old-style entertainment.

Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Twitter: @StrtegicRetweet

Venue:  Upstairs Clubroom, Irish Club, 13-15 Carrington St, Adelaide. Note that the venue is not wheelchair accessible
Season:  Saturdays only: 2 & 9 March 2019
Duration:  90 minutes
Tickets:  $18 – $25

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