The Addams Family – Paradise in Augustine’s

Directed by Dominic Lewis

Choreography by Felicity Thomas

Musical Director – Finlay Turnball

Instinctively, the audience clicks their fingers. For over eighty years, the grotesquely charming family of gloom has found constant ways to re-invent themselves. From an early appearance in the late ’30s as a satirical punch at idealistic American family values, they’ve gone from film to television and of course, onto the stage. Charles Addams’ The Addams Family are here in Edinburgh until August 10th, and you deserve whatever cruel fate is instore if you miss out…

So, what could the family be up to this time? Well, horror has befallen them. Something so disturbing, so stomach-churningly vile that it comes with a warning. Wednesday Addams is wearing yellow. Oh, and she’s in love with someone normal. Hard to fathom, especially for her parents Gomez and Morticia, but it’s true. A young man from Ohio, a blue-collared boy who might have a little sliver of darkness hidden beneath his smile. With their families meeting, Gomez makes the fatal error of lying to Morticia at his daughter’s bequest. As one might image, it doesn’t go well.

With such an iconic cast of grim characters, it’s a bit of a bugger to compete with their image. Bare Productions, however, not only match our expectations but excel in putting their stamp onto individuals. The iconic Morticia is a stoic, room commanding woman by Jo Heinemeier, capable of allure, yet knowing there’s a sharpness to her wit. Sharing this is Rebecca Drever who, without favour, has the tightest vocals of the evening, only rivalled by Andrew Chernouski’s Fester or Cameron Kirby.

Notable numbers to mention are the opening, which, within the first thirty seconds confirms this to be a stellar production and ‘Just Around the Corner’. A number which richly showcases the live band’s talents, who thankfully are given credit by Bare Productions having them on full view for the production.

It isn’t all about the voices, The Addams Family is just as much a comedy, as it is a musical, which director Lewis and choreographer Felicity Thomas are keen to remember. Their ensemble pieces with ancestors offer movement pieces which are lively (for the dead no less) and highlight the physical talents of Laura Emily and Steph Knowles.

Robbing the scenes is the lothario himself Michael Davies as Gomez, as charming as one might expect. Yet, when called upon, his father-daughter scenes with Drever are touching. A talent he shares with Chernouski’s Fester, who can bundle through the Manor doors one second yet well our eyes at his proclamations of love to the moon.

The only issue, and it’s an odd one, is that some of the vocal performances are too perfect. This highlights members of the cast who are performers first, singers second. No one delivers weak vocals though, even the least proficient could still outperform the audience.

Achieving a sublime balance in humour with emotional drama, Bare Productions earns its reputation as a high-class amateur production company. Their previous stint at the Fringe began this trend, and The Addams Family proves it. An exceptional evening of meticulous choreography, vocals which challenge those of the Broadway stars and a few grisly moments just to keep you on your toes. A must-see for any Fringe goer.

Tickets are still available in venue at Paradise in Augustine’s. Be sure to get in quick for a mostly sold-out run!

The Addams Family – Festival Fringe 2019 Preview

Running from August 3rd – August 10th at Paradise in Augustines. Tickets available from:

Following on from their sell-out production of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown“, Bare Productions return to the Festival Fringe with The Addams Family. The macabre family who make our own seem downright dull.

Proven to have a respectful place within Edinburgh’s amateur theatre circle, Bare Productions has only been around for two years, yet already they’ve made an impression. With their previous show receiving rave reviews, things are only looking positive for this year’s production.

The multi-award-winning team of authors Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice and composing lyricist Andrew Lippa brought the kooky, bleak and melancholy family of musical theatre into a fresh new narrative. The usual Mistress of Darkness, Wednesday Addams, made infamous with Christina Ricci’s cinematic portrayal finds herself in love. Yup, you read that correctly, and with a normal, chipper young man from middle-class suburbia no less.

A production which promises dance, song and humour, Bare Productions have a pleasing show for us all. Directed by Dominic Lewis, featuring the choreography of Felicity Thomas, The Addams Family will be that dark corner of the Fringe you’ll be dying to join.

Featuring a cast of local talent, Bare Productions are eager to make a second impression at this year’s Festival. Sticking within the realms of musical comedies, they’re hoping The Addams Family will provide this. With one look at the costume design, and musical director Finlay Turnball proving himself last year, we look forward to seeing how The Addams Family will turn out.

With a limited run towards the beginning of the Fringe, it is highly advisable to *dah-nah-nah-nah* snap up a ticket.

Images provided by Gavin Smart

Darien – The Byre Theatre

Script and Lyrics by Richard Robb

Composition by Craig McNichol

New Edinburgh. It was meant to be a crowning achievement, cementing the Kingdom of Scotland as a power of trade and influence. It would instead prove to be a colossal failure. The Darien Scheme was an attempt in colonising the Gulf of Darien between Panama and Columbia in the 1690s. Comprised of two expeditions, the first is told here through the eyes of one (fictional) man – Murdo McFarlane. His desire to remain on the island, fascinated by its beauty despite the discomfort and constant threats of the natives, becomes the focal point for this production. For all which survives of the failed colony is his writings, which have allowed his stories to survive years later.

Darien – The Commonplace Book of Murdo MacFarlane, presented by Bell Baxter High School, is a loose biography surrounding the events of the new Caledonia settlement. As is tradition with high school productions, it’s also a musical. Richard Robbs’ script leans on the musical aspect; thankfully, the vocals of the cast are perhaps the production’s best asset. The content of the script is intriguing, with detailed visuals offering a clear sense of the world-building Scotland attempted, though we get bogged down in some of the lengthier political or historical features.

The heavy, almost lecturing aspect of Darien is lifted in Act Two, as we move away from the first settlers and instead have a welcome dose of stronger female characters arriving on the shores. The dialogue and the performances have a tighter feel, with humour taking a more central stance. Megan Callaghan as Macfarlane’s wife, along with fellow traveller, Daytona Brereton, have the standout vocals. Brereton’s earthy tones in particular are a voice to listen out for in the future. Another musical highlight that appears earlier in Act One is “Wigs”, where soloist Shane Franks proves himself to be exceptionally talented. This playful number allows a break for levity, lampooning bourgeoisie obsessions and Franks to impress the audience with his choreography and slapstick skill. In spite of Franks’ clear showmanship, the solo highlights the lyrical density of Robbs’ songs. It’s a wonder how Franks manages to get out a torrent of unnecessary words in stanzas.

Nevertheless, the tunes are certainly catchy, with Craig McNicol’s compositions adding pathos to the production. Daniel Staal’s lighting complements the atmosphere set by the score rather well, with a great deal of imagination going into the construction of some scenes. From the pure white mist rolling down the mountains to the crimson flash of the Spanish soldiers on their trail, Staal does a superb job in bringing Darien to life in vivid detail.

Bell Baxter High has produced an impressive piece in Darien; while many high school productions fall back on a pre-existing formula, they instead have gone for something truly original. With a series of solid vocals, some creative design work and a story which, despite its slow pacing, has an investing level of intrigue, mystery and heart, Darien is a piece to be proud of. It certainly has set the bar for future productions.

Review originally published for Wee Review: