Review: The Addams Family, Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival, Sophia Gardens, Cardiff

Andy Howells attends the debut production of the Everyman’ Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival Ruby Jubilee – The Addams Family!

Since lockdown, I have come to look forward to (and appreciate more) the summer months, particularly enjoy the atmosphere of live performances. Few are as special as Everyman Theatre’s open-air festival which takes place in Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens.

I have been looking forward to this year’s Ruby Jubilee programme, which commenced on Thursday evening, with the smash-hit musical The Addams Family. Inspired by Charles Addams kooky, ghoulish comic strip creations, the series was a great success on both television and cinematic mediums before transferring to a stage show with music by Andrew Lippa.

The show is based around a predicament of which patriarch, Gomez Addams finds himself when his beloved teenage daughter, Wednesday, falls for a boy raised within a different set of family values and wants to marry him. Wednesday swears her father to secrecy until after the family dinner, (of which many undead family ghouls will be attending). When Gomez’ wife Morticia immediately detects her husband’s secrecy, the situation threatens the core trust of their relationship.

Balancing comic imagery with strong ensemble music pieces, The Everyman Theatre version of The Addams Family, directed by Gregory Ashton, has plenty of laugh along moments. This was apparent from the opening night audience reception as the ghoulishly attired ensemble stepped into the audience area creating an immersive, fun experience.

Notable from the offset is Paul Williams portrayal of Uncle Fester. Due to a recent injury, the actor performs his scenes from a wheelchair, ably and comically aided by Lesley Ross as a ghoulish looking nurse. Although all of Fester’s scenes were re-blocked in the last week, each fits seamlessly into the plot, including Fester’s declaration of love during The Moon and Me musical scene featuring Zoe Philpott as a physical version of the moon along with four dancing stars.

The spooky Addams Family could have leapt right from Charles Addams cartoon pages and are magically portrayed by four very competent performers. Holly Thompson brings allure to the matriarchal Morticia, while Michael Taylor Moran brings suaveness to her put-upon husband Gomez. The Addams offspring features some very entertaining performances from Rhosyn Boyce-Jones as the sassy, endearing Wednesday, and Alfie Morwood as the suitably mischievous Pugsley.

While much of the Addams scenes focus on the comedy, including Boyce-Jones and Morwood’s graphically fun, Pulled, I also enjoyed the more sensitive moments, including Moran as Gomez reflecting on his relationship with his growing daughter during Happy/Sad in the presence of two versions of Wednesday (with young Wednesday played touchingly by Zazie Blake.

Caught up in the strange world of The Addams Family mayhem are the Beineke family. These include Mitchell Attley as Wednesday’s boyfriend Lucas, Joe Green as stuffy businessman Mal and Laura Hayward as the rather normal Alice. I loved Miss Hayward’s transformation from a prim and proper housewife who thrives on writing poetry to a vamp with a lust for life. Her truthful side is revealed through a frantically charged performance of Waiting when accidentally drinking Grandma Addams’ (Katie Miles) truth serum during Morticia’s party game.

Further highlights include a subtle comic performance from Felix Jones as The Addams servant, Lurch and Emma-Jayne Parker’s enjoyable choreography on Teach Me How to Tango and the ensemble’s first act climax, Full Disclosure.

Topped off with a haunted house set that turns up a few surprises along the way, The Addams Family carries a ghoulish guarantee of freakish fun for the whole family. It runs until July 1st visit Cardiff Open Air Theatre Festival’s website for ticket availability.

Read on: Rhosyn Boyce-Jones Discusses Playing Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family

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