Review: The Addams Family at Mayflower Theatre

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80%
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Fantastic

A hilarious retelling of Charles Addams’ original comics and characters; driven by a superb score, fantastic cast and inventive set.

The musical opened with the infectious “duh-duh-duh-duh”, finger-snapping theme-tune from the 60s TV series and continues in a reminiscent vein. The Addams are a funereal negative-image of the domesticity which so many were striving for after the Great Depression. By contrast, the Beinekes appear to be the stock all-American family. Matthew White’s production harked back to Addams’ original single-frame comics with plenty of sight gags and short scenes. Although this can feel slightly disjointed, it was all helped along by Andrew Lippa’s soaring score.

Centred around Wednesday’s (Carrie Hope Fletcher) love for a normal boy, and the horror of both families at this, the musical drew some interesting comparisons with mixed-race marriages and the stigma that surrounded these. The production fantastically weaved each character’s storyline together, all focusing on their reactions to the match and the problems they see it presenting.

As we progressed through the story, the polar opposite couples slowly become more and more similar as they eventually accept one another. Though it focused on the relationship between Wednesday and Lucas (Oliver Ormson), we also saw the strained relationships between Morticia (Samantha Womack) and Gomez (Cameron Blakely) and between Lucas’ parents Alice (Charlotte Page) and Mal (Dale Rapley), both struggling with midlife marital angst.

However, as Fletcher captured Wednesday’s teenage troubles with fantastic authenticity, it was her relationship with her father which dominates, especially since Womack’s performance felt a little flat. The character lacks any dominance when competing with her daughter’s demands.

Uncle Fester (Les Dennis) was the driving force of the musical, acting as an emcee and calling on ghostly Addams ancestors to help keep the couples together. Ever-present in the background, the chorus loomed in the shadows and on the balconies of the inventive set (Diego Pitarch), watching over and yet cruelly mocking the family. They work to crowd the stage and yet are believably invisible to the main cast (excepting Fester); giving the production the lavish feel that choreographer, Alistair David, was working towards.

Lippa’s composition and the cast’s vocal prowess likewise enhanced this lavishness with a driving score and musical gags aplenty. Alice’s discovery of her inner id is a masterpiece of musical performance, and steadfast butler Lurch’s (Dickon Gough) one operatic breakout moment is perfectly revealed.

This musical spin-off of the Addams Family perfectly reflected Charles Addams’ original comics and feltas timeless as when the characters were first created in the late 30s. At the time, the Addams family would have characterised the spirit of the Great Depression, but it is of no consequence that the rest of the world has moved on around them. They live unhappily ever after in their small piece of forever, just waiting for us to pick up their story again.

The Addams Family is playing at Mayflower Theatre until 29th July 2017 and is touring the UK until 4th November 2017.  Watch the trailer below.  

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MChem Chemistry www.katjastout.co.uk

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