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Review: ‘Clue Live! – A Walking Experience’ brings the classic board game to life

by Joseph Spencer

In 1944, an English musician named Anthony E. Pratt applied for a patent of his invention of a murder/mystery-themed game, originally named “Murder!” Later, his creation was renamed “Cluedo,” a blend of the words of Clue, and ludo, which is Latin for “I Play.” In 1949, his game made its way across the Atlantic, where its name was shortened to simply “Clue,” and a cultural icon was born.

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Photos by Joseph Spencer

Spanning a feature film, a young adult book series, video games, and even an off-Broadway musical, Clue is one of the most famous board games of all time. This summer, at both the Westfield Century City and Topanga near Los Angeles, Calif., budding detectives can explore Tudor Mansion, and try to get to the bottom of the mystery that has surrounded the game since its inception: Who Killed Mr. Boddy?

My experience at Clue Live! began with a mystery of my own: finding where I was supposed to check in! You see, the Westfield Century City shopping center, where the experience was taking place, is a bit of a labyrinth of its own, and it’s easy to get a little lost inside. However, once I got my bearings, I was welcomed to Tudor Manor, given my game book, and waited for the experience to begin.

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Shortly, myself and the group that I was with were ushered to meet our guide for the evening, Mr. Boddy’s butler, aptly named Ms. Butler. She began to give us the details surrounding Mr. Boddy’s death, using the crowd to create a “mad-libs” style story (in a very cool detail, the suggestions from the crowd were later brought up while we interrogated the suspects).  After Ms. Butler completed her retelling of the events, we began our tour of “Tudor Mansion.”

One by one, our group was brought to the various “rooms” of Tudor Mansion — the famous Hall, Billiard Room, Library, Kitchen, the Study, and Conservatory — to listen to those present at the time of the murder. Live actors portrayed the notorious Professor Plum, Miss Scarlet, Colonel Mustard, Mrs. Peacock, Mr. Green, and Dr. Orchid. They each performed a monologue about what their motivations were, and what they saw during their evening at the mansion, and then we were allowed to ask them three questions. This is where the make-up of your group is really important, as ours had a lot of children in it, which meant that some of our questions were wasted.

After we had made our way through the mansion and interviewed all of the potential suspects, we pooled our knowledge, and using a clue we had found along the way, were able to successfully finger the culprit.

Ultimately, the experience was fun, and all of the actors involved really put their heart and soul into the character work they were doing. The only downside of the experience is that, ultimately, you were walking through a shopping mall. Normally, I find myself to be really good at suspending my disbelief and allowing myself to be immersed in the story that is being told, but unfortunately, the strength of the actor’s performances couldn’t overcome the sounds and crowds that accompanied the location of the experience. If you’re a huge fan of the board game or just mysteries in general, I would say that you’ll probably have a good time at Clue Live! — but for everyone else, I’m not sure the experience lives up to the ticket price.

Clue Live! runs from now until Aug. 8 at the Westfield Century City and tickets for the Westfield Topanga & The Village experience will be available soon. To learn more, visit ClueWalkingExperience.com.

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