New Wimbledon Theatre, London – until 20 May 2017
“Hold your decaying/Hear what we’re saying.”
Sad to say, what I’m saying is that I was not a fan of The Addams Family at all. After a cracking opening number which promises oh so much, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice‘s book grinds to a juddering halt in a first half which does nothing but interminably set the scene. And Andrew Lippa‘s score offers little respite as it fails to really nail any definitive sense of identity and ends up really rather forgettable. Things do pick up a tad post-interval but it’s too little too late by then.
It all could have been so much better. The Addams Family are an iconic set of characters, previously immortalised on cartoon strip, on television and on film, a legacy which goes some way to explaining the commercial success of the show on Broadway in the face of a scathing critical reception. But classic characters need classic storytelling and here, they’re marooned in a schmaltzy neverland which captures nothing of the golden age, nor has anything to say to audiences today.
The story hinges on Carrie Hope Fletcher’s Wednesday hooking up with the ‘normal’ Lucas, played by Oliver Ormson, but there’s zero narrative tension in the plot (or credibility – why Wednesday is attracted to him remains a mystery), such as it is, and the focus on Lucas’ family is misjudged, distracting from the whole raison d’être of a show called The Addams Family about the Addams Family. But even then, when the spotlight shines on the ooky and the kooky, the results are less spooky than shockingly dull.
Alistair David’s choreography provides sporadic visual interest, away from the rather cheap looking design by Diego Pitarch (perhaps inevitable for a touring production but still…). And there are some solid performances here – Fletcher is vocally on form, Samantha Womack’s Morticia is archly effective, Cameron Blakely’s hard-working Gomez is over-used but good, even Les Dennis finds a niche as occasional visitor Uncle Fester. But there’s no teeth to them, nothing to make them stand out in the way I so craved. That that blandness makes this a more family-friendly musical comedy does not escape me.