Saturday, December 3

The Addams Family – Gladstone Theatre

Can’t say I completely agree with Morticia: absolutely no secrets, but as this is the Addams family, best summed up as skeletons in the closet… And including their Ancestors, a motley crew crowds the stage, all sorts from Caveman and Viking to Flight Attendant, with Glenn Jenkinson-Deakin doubling up as Cowboy and Young Gomez and Mackauley Reece, the Matador, dancing the day away with Morticia, as Death.

Talking of shades, there’s many a touch here, from ‘Thriller’ (dance routines) to the ‘Rocky Horror Show’ (plot). Wednesday has certainly moved on from the little blonde Goody Two Shoes of the TV show to a rebellious, irrational, brother-tormenting Goth: your average teenager, basically. The plot revolves around her plans for a family dinner to which the Beinekes have been invited so that she can announce her engagement to son Lucas and get her mother on her side. What could possibly go wrong? Will Wednesday get her happy ending? And isn’t that a contradiction in terms, given it’s the Addams family?

Now you come to mention it, as for things going wrong, unfortunately, the sound system is extremely tinny and while the orchestra put heart, body and soul into playing, the songs are frequently drowned out. Not a word could be made out of Alice Bieneke’s solo towards the end of Act 1, so your only clue came from the title, ‘Waiting’. Fortunately, there was a lot of reprising, though ‘The Moon and Me’ seemed somewhat superfluous. However, it was good to see Uncle Fester (Christopher Pacitti) as rather appealing, with a soft spot for love, and I don’t mean a freshly dug grave either. But the loosely described special effects didn’t always succeed: in a duet with Gomez and Wednesday, figures are silhouetted against the moon but not clear why, who they are (presumably father and daughter) or what they are doing.

Otherwise, the staging effectively conjures up a variety of locations, starting with the graveyard, then the mansion interiors such as the dining room. Likewise, the dance routines – ‘Tango De Amor’ indeed. And in particular, the musical numbers, mostly beautifully done with Gomez, who has the lion’s share and then some, Morticia and Wednesday in full voice. The dialogue too was much appreciated by the audience, the cast biting with relish into the wittier comments.

Similarly, Kate Harcus, as possibly the most bizarre family member, Grandma, and while Joe Johnson may seem underused as Lurch, almost as immobile and, surprisingly, as silent as the furniture, performing in very, very slow motion, he does come amusingly into his own here and there, more comic surprise than relief. Then we have your normal family, in contrast with the Addams, although they too have their secrets: the Beinekes. Stuffy Mal, wild days behind him, is admirably portrayed by Bradley Bowckette while Jessica Boland has great fun with Mrs B when switching from repressed to feisty. And Tomos Bohanna does well to keep up as son Lucas, being as it were in Wednesday’s shadow.

Our heroine is of course exceptionally spirited, whether euphoric or despairing, the scenes with her parents suitably tender or tense; Gomez and Morticia respectively. The latter has Liz Legerton showing her as elegant, sophisticated and morbid, and extremely stubborn, if a perfect match for Gomez. And the show is more or less belongs to this charming man, with an immaculate performance from Mike Jenkinson-Deakin, thankfully far less smarmy than his TV counterpart. You really do feel for him in his dilemmas, particularly when it comes to his adoration of his wife and love for his daughter.

An excellent choice of production for Halloween – a fun night out all right, which went down a storm with the audience.

Reviewer: Carole Baldock

Reviewed: 27th October 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★