Joel Soetendorp

Edinburgh Fringe review: The Addams Family

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Charles Adams first drew the Addams Family as a cartoon strip in the 1940s, following a collaboration with the great fantabulist Ray Bradbury.  It seems they have been with us ever since. 

From the campy but cool 60s TV sitcom, to guest spots on Hanna Barbera cartoons in the 70s. Then the fondly remembered 90s films, with a distinctly Tim Burton feel and now a musical.

The Addams Family has always been sexy and subversive.  Can a musical be sexy and subversive?  .Sure it can.  The Rocky Horror Picture Show is sexy and subversive.

The problem is this ain’t no Rocky Horror Picture Show. It’s not bad and it’s certainly great to see as the first show of the day, especially as it’s just up the hill from the half price ticket office where tickets can be purchased…..for half pice.

It’s fun and the set is a marvel. Using a collection of dancers dressed as ghosts from loucher ages [Belle Epoque France, the Roaring 20s], haunted forests and a hilarious art gallery are created.  When they work with a Robin Williams-esque Fester the story sings.

But the overall plot kills the Goose that Lays the Golden Egg.  Wednesday Addams falls in love with a normal boy and wants to be normal and marry him. Thus it reduces one of the most iconic characters to a simpering, moody teenager.  Which is made worse by Pugsley being at once disturbingly older and hairier.   Rather perversley he misses being tortured by his sister.

The show could almost be renamed ‘We need to talk about Pugsley’.

The songs are competently sung but a little samey.  The author really needs to make their mind up about when it is set – in the 1940s or the millenials?  At the moment it’s really a bit confused and confusing.

It’s definitely a fun way to spend a couple of hours and pretty reasonable at half price. But if you loved the old Addams family films and comic strips, this ain’t it.  None of the other characters really stand out and the plot feels uncomfortably like a sitcom farce, with someone about to leap out of a cupboard with no trousers on.

It’s enjoyable, go and watch it.  But  it could have been a lot more.

Date of live review: 19 August 2014 @ Assembly Hall

Click to read all our Edinburgh Fringe reviews so far.