The Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Wednesday, Pugsley, Grandma and Lurch we see in this musical comedy adaptation of Charles Addams’ celebrated New Yorker cartoons, via the 60s TV series and the 90s films, are not so much creepy, mysterious or spooky as ‘differently decent’ upholders of Addams Family values. They may wear a lot of black and get their fun in dungeons and graveyards but, hey look, they’re just normal folk really and, sheesh, teenage love is a pain and family relationships are a mess for us all, aren’t they?
That’s not a message that over-impressed the young children at the show’s press night, whose talking, seat-kicking and wandering about when they were denied much in the way of whizz-bang antics on stage or sing-alongs was actually pretty scary for nearby non-consenting adults.
Obviously, there’s a bit of confusion here about who exactly the target audience might be, which means no-one emerges entirely satisfied from an enjoyable-enough show that nonetheless feels strangely lifeless and less than the sum of its parts.
To the horror of all the clan (bulked out not by the likes of Cousin It, disappointingly, but by a ghostly crew of Addams ancestors – who knew there was a ballerina, a Viking and a matador in their forebears?), the now-teenage Wednesday Addams (an impressive Carrie Hope Fletcher) has fallen in love with all-American boy Lucas Beineke (Oliver Ormson). Moreover, she has invited Lewis and his straight-arrow parents to dinner at the Addams house, and petulantly demands ‘one normal night’ from them. “What’s normal for the spider is a calamity for the fly,” muses her father Gomez (Cameron Blakely), so what could possibly go wrong with this not-unfamiliar culture clash scenario?
Gomez, moreover, is forced to balance the conflicting demands of his beloved daughter and his wife Morticia (a spot-on message Samantha Womack), who everyone rightly assumes will be appalled by the wedding plans.
In common with the films, the plot is wafer thin but there are enough zingy one-liners to hold your attention. Les Dennis is almost unrecognisable as Uncle Fester, allocated an MC role as well as the show’s one moment of genuine weirdness as he sings about his love for The Moon, and, while you know there’s going to be a comic payoff for Dickon Gough as looming, almost-silent butler Lurch, it’s actually pretty good when it finally comes.
Despite its many fine qualities and all the stylishly spooky trappings, the glaring problem with this show is the sense that we’ve seen it all before.