By Joe Rossiter
With unrelenting energy, clinical comedic timing and a scintillating tango, DULOG’s The Addams Family serves everything and more to its audience. Under the direction of the outstanding Lauren Brewer and Megan Cooper, with assistant Emily Phillips, this cast delivers a performance worthy of the two standing ovations they have already received.
The tone of the piece is set from the beginning with ‘When You’re an Addams’, an incredible number that powerfully and irresistibly demands the audience’s attention. Skilfully choreographed by Lauren Williams, and assisted by Vanessa Jeffels, it sets the highest standard for the rest of the night; a level which is nevertheless met and exceeded repeatedly.
Leading the family are the exceptional Ben Osland as Gomez and Anna Kendall as his wife Morticia. Osland’s performance is flawless, from his comedic delivery to his Spanish accent, and Kendall is more than his match, never allowing indulgence and effortlessly excelling in deceptively graceful choreography.
Their children, Wednesday and Pugsley, are cleverly portrayed by Rebecca Wright and Izzy Walaski. Wright’s efforts are excellent, her voice commanding the stage and her acting bringing authenticity to Wednesday’s dilemma: reconciling her love for boyfriend Lucas with that for her family. Walaski is the perfect younger brother, both moody and needy, with impressive vulnerability when alone on stage.
Miriam Templeman is excellent as Grandma, presenting a wonderful characterisation in both body and voice, while Olly Stanton is pitch-perfect both on and offstage as Lurch. Stanton’s talent is laid bare in this show; his physical comedy is impeccable and he makes more with grunts than many could with words, before his vocal ability is showcased in full as the piece reaches a climax.
Completing the Addams Family is Uncle Fester, the force of nature fabulously given life by Lengana Mashaphu, who delightfully intersperses the plot with wild ramblings contrasted with a pleasing self-awareness. Mashaphu is a joy to watch; he seems to glide across the stage and brings new, remarkable energy to his character.
Sam Jones gives a brilliantly rounded performance as Wednesday’s love interest Lucas, whose character arc is matched by his father Mal, played by Oscar Scott. Both Mal and Lucas learn to let go of their inhibitions, in the mould of the Addams family, with both Jones and Scott bringing the stories to life beautifully. The Beinekes are rounded off by Alice, Lucas’s mother, to whom infectious energy and range are brought by Sophie Alibert. Her transition from poetry-writing sweetheart to a crazy new woman is expertly handled, with Alibert literally rising above the crowded dinner table to demand the recognition deserved by her performance.
Supporting the cast is a large ensemble, each able to find their own place in the show and every member moving with a purpose and personality which perfectly complements the family. Williams must be mentioned again here for her attention to detail which forms a marvellous product, as an often crowded stage is organised on every step.
Of course, integral to the show is the music, executed to perfection by a supremely talented band led by Josh Tarrier with assistant Lucie Fletcher. The combination of their flawless output with the range of vocal ability on display means that the sound of this show is perfection.
Matching that soundscape is an outstanding visual effort. James Goodall’s lighting is spectacular, with the full range of the Assembly Rooms’ capability on display. Amy Gatward and Victoria Soh as costume designers truly fulfilled their task, with every outfit matching its character, while Em Oliver’s make-up design is simply brilliant. Every actor had a face to behold, from Osland’s superb facial hair to Mashaphu’s moonlit glitter.
Every element of the production worked with the others perfectly, the result of a team too large to acknowledge individually but which must be taken as a whole to fully appreciate the show. Brewer and Cooper can be exceptionally proud of their leadership: their team has created something very special. ‘The Addams Family’ is genuinely astounding for its quality in every aspect; it dares you not to be entertained.
Image credit: DULOG