The cast of THE ADDAMS FAMILY. Credit Pamela Raith
Venue: Milton Keynes Theatre
Performance Date: 11 January 2022
Reviewer: Ely King
Star Rating: ★★★1/2
The Addams Family is a truly cult-classic creation. After rising to popularity in the ’60s, The Addams Family have spanned comics, TV series, and movies alike, securing their spot as one of the most well-known ‘spooky-comedies’.
The ability to be spooky, yet funny is the key that draws in a wider audience, they’re sadistic and spooky yet not horrifying, they’re funny and zany, but not cringy. Those are the Addams’ family values that the audience expects from them.
Unfortunately, this new production doesn’t quite hit that balance. Though there are many tongue-in-cheek jokes, euphemisms, and one-liners, the edginess and grit many have come to expect from The Addams’ have been watered down to make it more child-friendly.
The staging, however, is perfect. It hits the sweet spot of their dilapidated mansion, still as gothic and luxurious with their interior as ever. The highlight is the ability to have one of Wednesday’s plethora of torture devices onstage, complete with brother Pugsley strapped to it, an incredibly clever scene synonymous with The Addams we all know and love.
The cast themselves work extremely hard with what they are given. Cameron Blakely as Gomez and Scott Paige as Uncle Fester are undeniable highlights of this cast. Blakely portrays Gomez as the love-drunk yet power-hungry Gomez to a T. His character is complete with an over-the-top accent and fabulously flamboyant flair that Gomez would be incomplete without. The ability to flick from loving father to masochist depending on whose on stage is a true talent. Paige as Uncle Fester is an award-deserving role, his ability to run with the role it is a pure joy to see, and he truly makes the character his own. A comment about Fester’s ambiguous sexuality does not go unnoticed either and is a smart touch to add.
Grant McIntyre as Pugsley and Kingsley Morton as Wednesday work well together. They realistically bounce off each other as the rival (yet oddly loving) siblings. The only qualm is that Wednesday is much too chipper in this show, gone is the savage young girl to be replaced with a lovesick teenager. This is no fault of Morton’s, though, as it is purely down to the script. Morton does add in some of that grit through her acting and vocals though, and deserves some major props for that.
Morticia Addams is widely known as the seductive temptress of The Addams Family. When you think of Morticia Addams, you likely envision Anjelica Huston’s famous portrayal, a feat that is almost impossible to live up to. Joanne Clifton’s Morticia is much more subdued, yet still has the sexual charisma that the character embodies to be able to have Gomez on a tight leash.
A true unsung hero who steals the entire show is Dickon Gough as Lurch. He manages to bring the audience to tears through laughter, without even saying a single word, only groans of different lengths and pitches. The ability to do that is honestly, mind-blowing. As expected, Lurch moves at one speed…slow, yet Gough takes it to a whole new level, dragging scenes out for eternity, yet the laughter only builds with him as he slowly descends the staircase or thumps across the stage. A truly unexpected turn comes at the end, where The Addams are all singing soft and harmonious until Lurch comes out of nowhere with something quite special. He saves the show without a doubt.
Though the plot is a touch on the weak side, the cast do absolutely everything they can with the material they have and still make it entertaining and ‘Addams’.
If you have young children and are worried about a show like The Addams Family being too brash or gruesome, rest assured, this adaptation is the perfect segue into them, yet remaining interesting enough to please the adults in the audience. That’s a tricky line to draw, and they do it quite well.
Go see the show, become an honorary Addams.
Runs until: Saturday 15 January 2022 and on tour