DramaMusicalReviewSouth East

The Addams Family – Orchard Theatre, Dartford

Reviewer: Dan English

Book: Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice

Music and Lyrics: Andrew Lippa

Director: Matthew White

In what has been a long time coming, the delightfully ghoulish and hilarious production of The Addams Family arrives at Dartford’s Orchard Theatre as part of its UK Tour.

Joanna Clifton leads as the iconic Morticia as her family struggles with the devastating consequences that her daughter, Wednesday, is besotted with a young man from a family the antithesis of the Addams’. The production, which centres around this relationship and the eventual meeting of two very different families, is a delightfully funny piece bringing to the stage one of TV’s most famous families as they hilariously try to appear ‘normal’ in front of a more typical American family.

Clifton, as Morticia is powerful and commanding. Clifton captures the demanding Morticia well, and holds the attention of those both on and off the stage with just a gentle twitch of the hip as she glides across the stage. Clifton’s charm and presence is clear in this role, and she crafts a cunning and fiendish Morticia. There is an interesting sideline to Morticia’s character in this piece which explores the changing role of women in the home and in marriage, and it’s one Clifton presents well.

As Gomez, Morticia’s husband, Cameron Blakely is an absolute triumph as a man purely desperate to keep both his wife and his daughter happy. Blakely is a lot of fun in this role, and is more than capable of holding the stage on his own. The opening numbers give Blakely a chance to lead, and does with aplomb. Blakely’s Gomez is pitched with the right balance of silliness and warmth, and his superb characterisation embodies the quality of this piece. Blakely’s comic timing is impeccable, and it’s through him where most of the piece’s humour is channeled through.

Kingsley Morton is Wednesday, who is trapped between her family and her love. Morton is impressive in this role, and demonstrates the clash within someone torn between their family and the one they love well. Morton’s Wednesday is roguish and charming, captured perfectly in one of her first moments torturing her brother. Morton proves a triple threat as a dancer, singer and actor.

Scott Paige threatens to steal the show anytime the loveable Uncle Fester comes on stage. Paige’s Fester has just the right level of pizazz which contrasts the gothic and ghoulish aura emanating from the piece. Paige really is a treat to watch, particularly during a exchange where the two families meet and the Addams’ strive to be seen as ‘normal’.

Supporting the leads is a devilish ensemble who represent the ghouls, ghosts and spirits of Addams’ ancestors trapped in the home under Fester’s command. The slickness and precise nature of the execution of the ensemble should not go unnoticed and scenes such as the superb banquet in the Great Hall towards the end of Act One are standout moments. What keeps, in part, this production alive is the speed that it shifts from number to number.

Alastair David’s choreography blends the comic and the ghoul in this piece. The production feels like one long journey through a very funny haunted house, and it’s encapsulated in the demanding yet polished routines of David’s choreography. Furthermore, Andrew Lippa’s music and lyrics likewise successfully combinine genuinely touching moments with equally humorous numbers.

Finally, designer Diego Pitarch has realised an imaginative set design which is gothic yet cartoonish in its delivery. The mansion feels genuinely threatening yet also a warm and heartfelt family home. This is a design of West End quality. This is a spectacle which should not be missed.

Runs until Saturday 26 February 2022 and then continues tour.


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A Darkly Funny Triumph

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