Review: Ghoulish glee

23 March 2016

by Alice Saville

The Addams Family are one big contradiction. They're a loving, sharing, giving family, who also make regular attempts to murder anything or anyone that crosses their path. This musical ramps up the irony at the family's heart by making romance the show's lifeblood.  

 

Wednesday is all grown up and desperately in love, and she wants her family to adore her intended husband Lucas. But meeting the parents is even more terrifying than usual when they're family of sadomasochists holed up in a haunted mansion.

Fans of the bleakly satirical films, beware: this musical takes the original 1930s comic book strip as its inspiration. Although it was written in 2010, its dated gender politics and gentle humour are coated in a few cobwebs. But director Charlie Keable has so much fun with the production that it almost doesn't matter. A chorus of ressurrected corpses dance and wail through clouds of dry ice. Harry Adair is stiff as a corpse in his show-stealing performance as butler Lurch. Gomez and Morticia (Broccan Tyzack-Carlin and Sadie Fitch Kempner) ramp up their sexual tension to the absolute max. As the chaos unfolds, Lucas and his seemingly normal parents don't stand a chance.

The ubiquitous Addams Family theme tune (if you haven't made up your own rude lyrics at some point, you're basically undead) gets a brief showing at the start, but the real treats are the musical's original songs. George Baker performed Uncle Fester's love song to the moon with a mournful pathos that reduced the audience to hysterics even before a massive foam moon-baby came out to dance a love duet with him.

It's pretty bizarre that a musical punctuated by bloodcurdling screams is fundamentally one long riff on Meet the Parents. Very little happens for stretches as long and distended as a Medieval torture victim. But with a cast having such a ghoulishly great time, you're still left giggling with glee.