review by Amy Stein

I knew the definition of Burlesque when I bought the tickets. I knew it would be a strip tease. I knew I would see a lot of skin. But somehow none of that prepared me for exactly how much skin I’d see.  

Clue: A Burlesque Murder Mystery, put on by the House of Hush Burlesque from October 5 to October 7, was playing at the Varscona Theatre where the old firehall used to be behind Whyte Ave. It is a small theatre with ten or so steep rows of seating, but on October 5, the theatre was packed. I loved the open brick walls and exposed beams because it added to the beautiful small theatre charm. Many people had taken the opportunity to get snacks or a drink from the concession and one man in front of me put in eye drops prepping for the show, which I laughed at quietly to myself. 

The performance began with a land acknowledgement followed by the Detective (Kristi Hansen) explaining that this was an audience participation show, so if we saw something we liked we were supposed to cheer. The red velvet curtains opened to reveal the six main Clue characters (Beau Creep as Peacock, Violette Coquette as Mustard, Bea Lissima as Scarlett, Luna LaPearl as Plum, Stretcher Hymen as Green, Jizz Elle as White) and the soon to be deceased Ms Boddy (LeTabby Lexington). The Detective sat in a chair off the left of the stage while the remaining seven characters danced together until Ms Boddy lay dead on the floor. 

 I naively thought that the plot of the show would be equally as important as the strip tease, but I soon learned after the first dance number that the concept of Clue was a gateway for burlesque. The interrogation process the Detective had set in place was thorough, to say the least. Each cast member, including the Butler (Vivian Vanguard), during their interrogation would rid themselves of their clothing in ways that promised more skin to come. The entire length of one song, roughly three minutes, was spent solely on watching the characters shimmy and shake, praise and parade, and taunt and flaunt what their mammas gave them. I saw eight more naked butts than I needed to that night. 

I knew the show would be outside of my comfort zone, and nothing solidified that more than hearing the audience cheer and grunt at the performance while I sat uncomfortably. There were points in a song where I thought the cast member was finished stripping, but then a bra would be torn away and only sparkly nipple coverings would remain. The audience ate it up while I clapped politely at the end of each song.

A person behind me said their friends from church would not enjoy this, and I would have to agree. I don’t think the intended audience for this show was a multitude of church-goers, and many of the jokes were highly sexual and some were against religion. Reverend Green was having an affair with Professor Plum and was also a hit man. Ms Boddy said he was the best hit man because nobody ever believed a pastor would kill someone. Statements like this, other jokes, and Reverend Green’s ‘interrogation’ were jabs against religion, but I couldn’t tell if it was a light-hearted joke or they were serious about mocking Christianity. I’ll admit it unsettled me a little. 

As the show came to a close, the Detective strolled around the stage crossing suspects off her list. She came to the conclusion that Professor Plum killed Ms. Boddy in the kitchen with the candlestick because Ms. Boddy found Professor Plum and Reverend Green having sex. Dramatic gasps from the audience propelled the cast into one final dance sequence where all clothing stayed on their bodies. The show ended after an hour and fifteen minutes with many cheers and hollers from the crowd. 

The cast of Clue: A Burlesque Murder Mystery

I did not think going into the night that Burlesque was my thing, and that didn’t really change coming out of it either. I did enjoy the atmosphere, though. I am not one that frequently ventures to bars, so the crowd at the theatre was not one I’d normally find myself in. It was quite entertaining to watch the crowd’s reaction to what was happening on stage. Was I uncomfortable at times? Sure. Would I go to another show? No, but I will say I was not bored watching Clue: A Burlesque Murder Mystery.

Clue: A Burlesque Murder Mystery

House of Hush Burlesque
Varscona Theatre: 10329 83 Ave NW

Related posts from the archive:
Bourbon and Burlesque at the Spotlight Cabaret (Dec 2021)

Bourbon & Burlesque Review (Oct 2020)