Theater | Event Review: CLUE: A WALKING MYSTERY (The Streets of Downtown Chicago)

Post image for Theater | Event Review: CLUE: A WALKING MYSTERY (The Streets of Downtown Chicago)

by Emma S. Rund on June 21, 2024

in Concerts / Events,Theater-Chicago


You could say that CLUE: A Walking Mystery lives up to its name, in that the intended audience for this experience is a mystery. This murder mystery experience, produced by Right Angle Entertainment and The Wild Optimists, is an escape room meets walking tour that doesn’t quite deliver on either.

Such an interactive mystery-solving experience could be touted toward escape room aficionados, but I think they’d find themselves sorely disappointed. After being greeted by a “butler,” much the same as you would be greeted by someone at the start of an escape room, we were given “case files” and a map. Out of nine locations on this map, only four of them had anything resembling a puzzle. The most interesting of the puzzles was in the “Library,” or, more accurately, Barbara’s Bookstore at Macy’s, but none of the puzzles were complex enough to offer any amount of brain teasing. Someone used to the escape room-style puzzles may find these insultingly simple.

That led me to consider that this experience might be meant for children. But if that’s the case, I can’t imagine many children would make it through all the walking required without a meltdown or two. Without spending too long at any one location, the entire experience took my companion and I nearly two and a half hours to complete without much time to really explore or enjoy any of the locations we visited. Even if your child loves walking, the experience doesn’t provide enough visual or tactile interest to hold a child’s attention — not to mention the cost might be prohibitive for a family, at $35-45 per person depending on the day.

Well, if it’s a walking tour, wouldn’t this be perfect for tourists? That seems a more likely target audience for this experience than Chicago locals, but tourists would be much better served seeing the city in some other way. Instead of sending you on a fun-filled tour of Chicago landmarks (of which there are many to choose from downtown), the provided map leads you to a somewhat random selection of downtown businesses, the only true Chicago landmark being The Palmer House Hotel. Of course, the logical explanation is that the locations are based solely on which businesses made a deal with Right Angle Entertainment to allow this to happen, but some of the employees of these businesses didn’t seem too happy we were there at all. Some clearly didn’t want the CLUE-players to even enter their establishments, placing the clues in street-facing windows.

The most likely audience is, of course, lovers of the board game CLUE, and I think this experience comes closest to hitting this mark, but it’s still not a bullseye. It took my companion and I a while to figure out how they wanted us to eliminate suspects, weapons, and rooms, because, of course, the game of CLUE doesn’t work like solving an actual mystery. You just eliminate every card that you lay eyes on. We discovered the same rules apply to this walking version. If you see a weapon, a room, or a suspect, out they go. Somehow that method of elimination is so much more satisfying in board game form. On its feet, this experience lost its appeal very quickly, and if it hadn’t been for this review, we would have stopped after a few locations and just gone out for dinner instead. I would recommend the same to escape-room-lovers, families, tourists, and CLUE-players considering this experience. Your money can be better spent elsewhere.

photos courtesy of the publicist

CLUE: A Walking Mystery
Right Angle Entertainment and and The Wild Optimists
Block 37, 108 N. State St., on the Pedway Level near Starbucks
ends on September 15, 2024
for tickets (starting at $35), visit CLUE: A Walking Mystery

for more shows, visit Theatre in Chicago

Leave a Comment