The Addams Family – Review – Bradford Alhambra
By Sandra Callard
The original TV series of The Addams Family forever holds a place in my heart. My whole family and I laughed ourselves silly at the weak jokes, nasty horrors and sheer originality of the ‘creepy, kooky’ family when it first appeared on our screens. It was new, different and quirky, and we loved it. Its arrival at Bradford Alhambra had to be seen, and I dutifully arrived there with my seven year-old grandson in tow. He had seen the 2019 animated film and was hooked.
The stage production had the addition of music, and most of the cast managed most of the songs, but no-one was an expert in this particular field and the songs did not live long in the memory. This would not really matter if the songs worked in the moment, but they mostly did not, and this was where I knew I had to abandon my affection for this new Addams Family because it was a totally different and inferior beast to the one I once loved. Yes, it looked the same, it said many of the same things, but this one was noisy, with non-inspirational music and it held nothing of the charm of the original.
Course, sometimes it is not a good thing to try to simply mirror the terms of an original and popular production. Feelings alter with time and many have been successful in reworking an old theme – and this performance tried, but failed to do this. Sure, the show already is massively different in that some bright spark decided to turn it into a musical, but I defy anyone who has seen it to now remember a line or a note of any song that was performed. I forgot each song the moment it ended. The sets were predictable with nothing outstanding about them and the same can be said of the costumes.
However, I had the bad luck, or possibly good luck, to be sitting directly behind a tall lady with a very profusive head of hair, which meant that I could see to the left of the stage and also to the right, but centre stage was well nigh invisible. Perhaps if I had seen the singers performing I may have altered my judgement, or perhaps not.
I must nevertheless add – and this is important – that my grandson was completely over the moon with the whole show. He sat on the edge of his seat and followed every tiny action which took place on the stage with an avid interest, and left the theatre smiling excitedly and telling me about the things I had missed because of the lady’s hair. Maybe it’s me that’s out of time. Or maybe the show was perfectly pitched to seven-year-olds – although the audience was mainly adults.
Purely on personal performances, Scott Paige who played Uncle Fester, was the brightest and most talented man on the stage, but the huge and strange person, Lurch, played by Dickon Gough, was totally hypnotic and his astounding burst of song at the end was the best piece of musical singing I heard throughout the entire show.
Despite my reservations, the theatre was packed, people were laughing, the applause was solid, and as far as I could see only two people walked out before the interval and did not return. Some success, at least.