Book: Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice
Music & Lyrics: Andrew Lippa
Director: Matthew White
Reviewer: Dominic Corr
From the instant that familiar melody starts, the audience instinctively clicks their fingers. After 80 years, the grotesquely charming family has found another medium. From comic strip to animation, television, film and in 2010 to the glitz of Broadway, this week Scotland welcomes the new UK tour of The Addams Family.
Now, an older Wednesday Addams is quite repulsively in love. What’s more, it’s with a bright, handsome young man who dreams of nothing more than locking her away in a charming cottage with a white picket fence – vile. Father Gomez (Cameron Blakely) finds himself trapped between the two women he adores. To keep his daughter’s secret, or to continue to share openly with the matriarch of the macabre, Morticia (Samantha Womack).
The narrative is quite simple with one or two twists of suspense but at no point is there any real sense of tension. Though, this is not the overall intention of the production – it’s a jovial story about the future of a deeply cared for fictional family. Instead, a combination of the musical score and some superb performances breathe life into the often-grim looking cast. Primarily achieving this are Carrie Hope Fletcher and Cameron Blakely as Wednesday and Gomez. While continuing the cinematic style of a darker Wednesday, Fletcher plays to the cynicism of every member of the audience but still carries off the emergence of a happy Wednesday. Blakely’s energy as Gomez is enviable, the Spanish Casanova constantly moving, grinning or dancing across the stage. Womack as Morticia is pleasant and more than adequate, there is a sleekness to her but, the famous passion between her and Gomez has a dampness at times.
Dissecting the lyrics of Andrew Lippa, you can find that beneath the farce and wise-cracks quite often lies real poignancy, particularly in Pugsley’s solo number What If? though this isn’t true for the entire score, aspects of which range from heart-warming to (quite frankly) utterly insane. Les Dennis is unrecognisable as Uncle Fester. What is more unrecognisable is the bewildering heartache he displays in his love for the Moon, yes, the Moon. For every song like The Moon and Me, soft and touching, there is a number such as Full Disclosure where Broadway comes to the fore – fast, loud, full of light and colour, it’s the catchy sequence that offsets any moments that become a tad too dramatic.
At times the staging feels cluttered, every Addams ancestor has a design that reflects their era. Diego Pitarch does an excellent job with the aesthetic, and at times it is exemplary. However, when all the cast is together, it can feel cramped and noisy.
Where’s the fun in being mundane? Where’s the joy in being considered ‘normal’? Instead, as they always have, The Addams Family asks us to embrace the darkness and find that gloom and misery are often more inviting than ordinariness. This rejuvenated outing is surprisingly heart-warming, a balance of cynical yet cheesy and welcoming to audiences and freaks alike.
Runs until 29 April 2017 then touring | Image: Contributed