★★★★ Wildly macabre
The Pleasance Theatre: Tue 17 – Sat 21 Nov 2015
Review by Susan Lowes
Halloween may be but a memory, but the Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group proves that there’s still space for a little of the macabre in town.
They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky…they are of course, The Addams Family – and they are at the Pleasance Theatre all week.
Filling the shoes of such a well known family could be a challenge. Particularly one with such distinctive and exuberant characters. But directors, Rebecca Simmonds and Kate Pasola stage a production that really brings The Addams Family to life.
From the opening Bah da, da-dum. [Snap, snap] something just seems to click into place. No explanation is needed. The production simply launches into what feels like just another episode. Of course though it’s a musical episode with a full orchestra seated on stage.
The show, originally performed in 2010, features music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. The book, by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, finds Gomez living through every father’s nightmare: his little girl, Wednesday, is growing up, getting married and she’s fallen for a seemingly normal boy.
Now the family are to host a dinner for him and his family. Even worse, they have to try to be normal for the night. But then again, so does his family. What ensues is two and a half hours of dark comedy – with obvious and silly jokes that will inspire a groan at the same time as a giggle.
There’s a lot going on in this production. With 10 central characters, 12 additional ancestors making up the dancing chorus, and an orchestra, the small Pleasance stage is positively cluttered. There’s one nail-biting moment where a member of the cast almost collides with a double bass and the choreography of some of the group dancing scenes feels muddled and crushed into the space.
But even within this busy backdrop, the cast deliver some stellar performances. Scott Meenan as the enthusiastic and passionate Gomez delights as he dances across the stage brandishing his sword. Next to his exuberance, Melani Carrié as Morticia seems somewhat muted and quiet – her deadly seductive charm only sometimes glimpsed behind the commotion on stage.
The real stars of the show though are of course the central character of this episode, Wednesday, played by Ashleigh More and the part-narrator Uncle Festor, played by Campbell Keith.
More pulls out all the stops when faced with the hard task of balancing the seldom-smiling girl with the gushing adolescent in love. She manages this with ease, maintaining a delicious awkwardness throughout but leaving no scope for the audience to disbelieve her feelings – it’s very well done indeed. Keith is also a delight displaying Festor’s eccentric character – and providing much of the production’s light relief – while also displaying a touching love for Wednesday and his family.
This episode does also benefit from the introduction of Lucas, Wednesday’s love interest played by Nitai Levi, along with corporate dad Mal (Paddy Wilmott), and poet mom (Esmée Cook).
Of course, there’s also the incoherent Lurch (Hans Siy-Yap) who might just surprise you with a song, the whiney and plotting young Pugsley (Holly Marsden) and the fumbling incontinent Grandma (Ari L’Heveder). In fact the only thing missing from the Addams Family – apart from a brief cameo at the beginning – is Thing itself.
EUSOG’s production of The Addams Family is, on the whole, wildly entertaining and sure to raise more than a few smiles. Fix the cramped staging, bring back Thing and give the audience a chance to sing along to the theme song they all know and love and this show’s a definite hit!
Running time: 2 hours 30 (including interval)
Pleasance Theatre, Pleasance Courtyard, 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ.
Tuesday 17 – Saturday 21 November 2015
Daily: 7.30pm, Matinee Sat 21: 2.30pm.
Tickets and details: http://www.eusog.org/addamsfamily
EUSOG on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eusavoy/
The Addams Family ensemble. Photo: Oliver Buchanan