They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky, they're all together… normal? The Addams Family. Duh-duh-duh-duh *click click*. Andrew Lippa’s musical adaptation is a formulaic but fun-filled frolic focusing on Wednesday, the first daughter of America’s freakiest family, finding love with cookie-cutter conventionalist Lucas, whose ordinariness is disorientating for the rest of the kooky clan when his equally-ordinary family come to dinner.
The plot, from Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, is ‘Pulled’ in perhaps one too many directions: the difference between the families, as wide as the Addams’ Central Park plot, provides some predictable but funny fodder. As well as Wednesday and Lucas’s love woes, there’s Morticia's and Gomez’s marital discord once she finds out he’s keeping secrets about their daughter from her, Lucas's seemingly conservative parents needing to rediscover love in their mid-life marriage, Uncle Fester’s loony longing for the moon, and this is all haunted by a host of historically-attired ancestors. The effect is that the plot feels padded rather than planned, and, although believable, because Wednesday and Lucas are already a couple, it feels like a missed opportunity to explore their differences more effectively through their undoubtedly unconventional courtship, rather than a dinner party that’s appropriated by their parents.
The family are terrifically creepy and their kinship is a force to be reckoned with: Cameron Blakely is completely batty – in all the best ways – as patriarch Gomez, carrying the action with a ridiculous accent and uncanny comic timing that’s not quite matched by Samantha Womack’s slow-moving Morticia. Carrie Hope Fletcher is a feisty and hopelessly infatuated Wednesday, her performance of ‘Pulled’ punchy and impressive, and her Lucas, Oliver Ormson, is a charming but cautious leading man. Elsewhere, Scott Paige, stepping in for Les Dennis, is superbly absurd as the bald, fourth-wall breaking Uncle Fester. Dickon Gough’s looming, lumbering Lurch delivers most of the visual gags, and Charlotte Page’s smiling, rhyming, yellow-admiring Alice is a marvellous motherly foil in the vein of an Avon lady to the vampy Morticia.
Although fun and freakish, Alistair David’s entertaining and tango-tastic choreography, especially in the opening song ‘When You’re An Addams’, Diego Pitarch’s gothic and gloomy designs, and Lippa’s quick, clever, and kooky lyrics can’t disguise that this show is more spunky than spooky, and a little too saccharine in the final act for the Addams’ Family we’re all familiar with. - Leah Tozer