After the enormous success of their January production of All Shook Up, which had a five-night run at the Black Box Theatre, and the popularity of Netflix’s Wednesday last year, to say that GUMS’ version of The Addams Family had a lot to live up to is an understatement. The Addams Family played to a sold-out audience every evening from Tuesday 7 to Friday 10 March in the Bank of Ireland Theatre.
The storyline of the musical followed an 18-year-old Wednesday Addams (Ciara Doherty) as she falls in love with and intends to marry Lucas Beineke (Robert Cosgrove). The two lovebirds bring their families together for a dinner to announce their engagement. But, as anyone who is familiar with the members of the Addams family, chaos is never far away!
The set was minimal, but the cast made full use of the stage. A table, armchair and mantlepiece were the sole props at the beginning of the show. The moon shone brightly above the stage. Lurch (Eoin Cassidy) was the first character seen by the audience, who came from behind the seating rig to interact with the audience. He sat on audience members’ laps, and invited an audience member up to waltz with him on the stage before the show began.
Cian Elwood’s portrayal of Gomez was mesmerising; his Spanish accent was perfect. Elwood really encapsulated Gomez’ eccentric and flustered nature. Taryn Clarke was perfectly cast as the glamours, yet scary, Morticia. She brought a domineering energy to the stage and showcased Morticia’s loyalty to Gomez and her family, whilst also showing how she has Gomez wrapped around her finger, as does Wednesday. Pugsley (Eloise De Sousa) played Pugsley, the youngest Addams child, who is constantly tormented by his sociopathic older sister, Wednesday.
Abbie Doran and Lisa Hamilton provided comedic relief in the form of Grandma and Uncle Fester. There was no shortage of hilarious one-liners from these two, including the 104-year-old Grandma singing Flo Rida’s “Low”, and Fester declaring his love for the moon. A hidden gem of the show for me, however, was Saorla Fenton, who played Lucas’ mother, Alice. Alice went from a sweet, rhyming Midwestern woman to full-on crazy after (mild spoiler alert!) ingesting something she shouldn’t have.
One critique I must mention is the music was too loud. I was sitting in the second row and found it hard to hear a few of the cast’s voices. This technical issue seemed to be rectified at the start of the second act, however, it came back with a vengeance as the singing continued. Wednesday and Lurch were particularly hard to hear, but this was no reflection on Doherty and Cassidy’s respective singing capabilities. The choreography and stage direction were brilliant, my personal favourite part being Gomez and Morticia’s tango.
Overall, I would say that GUMS put on the best possible production with a limited set and cast. In saying that, the small cast was a pleasant change to the large chorus that sometimes can overwhelm a musical production. Although the plot was a little hard to follow at times, with the distracting ‘ancestors’ chorus, and the minor technical issue, I thoroughly enjoyed this musical production, which lived up to the precedent of entertaining and fun musicals staged by GUMS in the past.