BWW Review: FINE AND DANDY / THE CLUEDO CLUB KILLINGS, Arcola Theatre
Fine and Dandy
A story of a young queer searching for their place in the world, Sue Frumin's Fine and Dandy is a manic and outright in your face tale that puts gender and sexuality at the forefront of the conversation. Originally written as a solo piece in 1999, it has been revisited and reworked for the Arcola Queer Collective's current season.
Still feeling as relevant as it must have done almost 20 years ago, the show is an unapologetic, disorientating mess that definitely works. Jonathan Richardson's production acutely taps into the bizarreness of humanity, and his direction has allowed the cast to be incredibly playful throughout the 60-minutes.
They work together as a tight-knit ensemble; ensuring the piece constantly has a natural flow. The shows composition is rather complicated; but you wouldn't be able to tell this, as the company work hard to make all of the costume and set changes seem effortless. There is a genuine enthusiasm for the work beaming from all on stage, and the audience actively reciprocates this excitement.
Dian Cathal is one of the standouts for me. Not only do they win the award for the best programme bio, but they also multirole brilliantly between a northern, blundering Albert Shufflebottom and a commanding, audacious God. Cathal's comic timing is spot on and their facial reactions are so over the top, they perfectly encapsulate the caricature essence of the show.
Sure, there are a lot of things that need refining and the script most certainly needs a more rigorous edit, but we can look past that. Fine and Dandy brings together a broad collective of fabulous, fierce and fearless individuals. Each performer brings a unique energy to the room and it's this enjoyment that makes the piece so highly watchable.
I'd encourage you all to step into this mad house and embrace the craziness in its entirety.
The Cluedo Club Killings
If a PG-rated Scream had a baby with an Agatha Christie novel, you'd get this show. Part slapstick, part telenovela it's a story of an exclusive group of individuals who obsess over murder mysteries. But one day Reverend Green is brutally murdered and they realise that the narrative of their favourite board game is about to become their reality.
Mover over Poirot and step aside Nancy Drew, there's a new detective in town. Esther is the super sleuth determined to crack the mystery of the Cluedo Club killings. By daringly investigating each clue and interrogating every possible suspect, she gets herself in too deep - could she be the serial killers next victim?
The cast hit all of their cues brilliantly, which means when the 'Dun dun DUN' sound effects play, the company's over the top, and over expressed head turns towards the audiences are timed perfectly. Their over-exaggerated delivery style is nothing short of fantastic, and the production is packed full of this kind of physical comedy.
This seems to suit the style of Nat Kennedy, whose direction draws out the best performances from all. Leaving nothing to chance, her choices are incredibly slick and each bit of movement has been selected with a clear evocation in mind. Her production will leave you on the edge of your seats, both in suspense and shear hilarity.
Back in the day the Arcola Queer Collective's shows used to transfer to the main space, and it'd be great to see The Cluedo Club Killings follow that trend - it most definitely deserves a longer run. Who dunnit? Well, you're going to have to head to Dalston to find out.
But trust no one. Everyone's got a motive, even your mate sitting next to you.
Photo credit: Arcola Queer Collective