Theatre Play: “The Addams Family”

The Addams Family is an action-packed musical comedy based on a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice with the characters taken from the eponymous cartoon. It is another adaptation of the well-known story of the weird macabre family making clumsy attempts to live among normal people, who find them scary and try to avoid their company. The paper at hand will analyze a recent theatrical performance of the play in order to estimate how successfully it manages to interpret the characters, present the plot, and create the comic yet creepy atmosphere using the costumes, the settings and the light to enhance the effect produced.

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It is fair to note that the actors were challenged with a really complex task as the comparison with the famous screen versions (the movie of 1991 and the series of 1964) is inevitable for the spectator. Unfortunately, the present musical compares poorly to both because unlike them it fails to create impressive characters that would stick to memory.

The choice of the actors is rather questionable: uncle Fester looks younger and more subtle than Wednesday, Pugsley is too small, whereas Gomez (who is supposed to be a Spanish macho) looks and speaks like an awkward Jew. However, the latter seems to be the most convincing of all as he is very professional in his speech and stage movement. Besides, he produces the desired comic effect. Alice and her son Lucas are not so bad since they at least manage to interact with the others rather naturally.

The others look artificial and exaggerated: Wednesday’s rigid hands do not correlate with her passionate words and songs; Grandma often forgets about her age and arthritis and moves like a young girl, Morticia is so concerned with being diabolic that her voice and gestures seem forced; and even the butler makes “robot” hands to look like a zombie whereas his whole body is lax. They all seem to exist separately from one another.

The directing of the production is better than the acting, though. The dances are properly staged and the transmissions between the scenes are as smooth as the change of the decorations allows. There are a lot of background characters who still do not disturb the general action and seem to be at the right place. The space is used to the best advantage. The performance is quite dynamic: there is no episode in which the tension would get slackened.

The set design of the play is both a success and a failure. On the one hand, the scenery is rather elaborate: there is a lot of furniture, decorations, and props that the actors can interact with. Thus, their poor acting is sometimes saved by the presence of objects allowing them to keep their hands busy. As the scenes change, the spectator can clearly see when the action takes place at the graveyard, inside or outside the house. Nothing is abstract – the director does not leave any space to imagination. However, on the other hand, a closer look at the settings reveals that the choice of details was careless and random (e.g. the family who hates bright and light colors has a yellow-goldish sofa and light-brown walls).

The lighting of the production is rather well-done: the faces of the actors can be seen properly as the lighting man spotlights each acting area separately. It is important when there are a lot of people on the stage because it helps the audience concentrate the attention on the most significant information. The ambient light is also meaningful: its color is cold at night at the graveyard and quite warm inside. In the second act the color turns to red, which shows growing tension and passions that since now on will run high. Besides, changes of light (that are sometimes rather abrupt) are used for purely technical reasons as blackouts are necessary for the stage workers to replace the scenery. However, the darkness in not complete so we can see the actions that must be concealed from the viewer, which is certainly a flaw.

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The choice of the costumes is perhaps the most interesting constituent of the production that should be discussed at length. At the first sight, the viewer does not notice any inconsistence: the gloomy family members are dressed in black while their ancestors are wearing white, which is typical of ghost characters. However, later you come to understand that Gomez has a white shirt and a red bow, which is a bit too much for the man who calls his daughter “a crime scene” when she puts on a light-yellow dress (The Addams Family EHS Play 2016).

The costumes are present-day – the Addams’ tendency to wear old-fashioned elegant clothes is ignored (except Morticia’s long dress which is still quite modern). Despite this, the director did not forget that the ancestors (even though they are minor characters) come from different epochs: some of them are wearing corsets, old-fashioned dresses, and chemises whereas others have modern trouser suits, hats, and jackets. The change of costumes is symbolic. Wednesday chooses a yellow dress to look “normal” so it is not a coincidence that Lucas’s mother is wearing a yellow suit, too, claiming that “yellow is life” (The Addams Family EHS Play 2016).

However, when Alice’s dark side is revealed with the help of Grandma’s potion, she rejects her false optimism and opts for a black outfit and tights with lots of holes in them. Morticia also changes her dress in the second act for a more sexually explicit one (which aligns with her desire to be more open), which even makes Gomez marvel that she has legs. Mal, Alice’s husband, is dressed in gray, which is also demonstrative as his suit emphasizes how totally ordinary he is. Therefore, the characters whose state of mind remains rather stable throughout the play do not change their costumes.

The comprehensive analysis of the production reveals that it has a lot of drawbacks as well as considerable advantages. The former mostly refer to the poor acting and interaction of the performers, who are very stiff and clumsy, whereas the latter include elaborate choice of costumes, proper lighting and direction.

The Addams Family is an action-packed musical comedy based on a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice with the characters taken from the eponymous cartoon. It is another adaptation of the well-known story of the weird, macabre family, making clumsy attempts to live among normal people, who find them scary and try to avoid their company. The paper at hand will analyze a recent theatrical performance of the play in order to estimate how successfully it manages to interpret the characters, present the plot, and create the comic yet creepy atmosphere using the costumes, the settings, and the light to enhance the effect produced.

It is fair to note that the actors were challenged with a really complex task as the comparison with the famous screen versions (the movie of 1991 and the series of 1964) is inevitable for the spectator. Unfortunately, the present musical compares poorly to both because, unlike them, it fails to create impressive characters that would stick to memory.

The choice of the actors is rather questionable: uncle Fester looks younger and more subtle than Wednesday, Pugsley is too small, whereas Gomez (who is supposed to be a Spanish macho) looks and speaks like an awkward Jew. However, the latter seems to be the most convincing of all, as he is very professional in his speech and stage movement. Besides, he produces the desired comic effect. Alice and her son Lucas are not so bad since they at least manage to interact with the others rather naturally.

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The others look artificial and exaggerated: Wednesday’s rigid hands do not correlate with her passionate words and songs; Grandma often forgets about her age and arthritis and moves like a young girl, Morticia is so concerned with being diabolic that her voice and gestures seem forced, and even the butler makes “robot” hands to look like a zombie whereas his whole body is lax. They all seem to exist separately from one another.

The directing of the production is better than the acting, though. The dances are properly staged, and the transmissions between the scenes are as smooth as the change of the decorations allows. There are a lot of background characters who still do not disturb the general action and seem to be in the right place. Space is used to the best advantage. The performance is quite dynamic: there is no episode in which the tension would get slackened.

The set design of the play is both a success and a failure. On the one hand, the scenery is rather elaborate: there is a lot of furniture, decorations, and props that the actors can interact with. Thus, their poor acting is sometimes saved by the presence of objects allowing them to keep their hands busy. As the scenes change, the spectator can clearly see when the action takes place at the graveyard, inside or outside the house. Nothing is abstract – the director does not leave any space to imagination. However, on the other hand, a closer look at the settings reveals that the choice of details was careless and random (e.g., the family who hates bright and light colors has a yellow-goldish sofa and light-brown walls).

The lighting of the production is rather well-done: the faces of the actors can be seen properly as the lighting man spotlights each acting area separately. It is important when there are a lot of people on the stage because it helps the audience concentrate the attention on the most significant information. The ambient light is also meaningful: its color is cold at night at the graveyard and quite warm inside. In the second act, the color turns red, which shows growing tension and passions that, from now on, will run high. Besides, changes of light (that are sometimes rather abrupt) are used for purely technical reasons as blackouts are necessary for the stage workers to replace the scenery. However, the darkness is not complete, so we can see the actions that must be concealed from the viewer, which is certainly a flaw.

The choice of the costumes is perhaps the most interesting constituent of the product that should be discussed at length. At first sight, the viewer does not notice any inconsistency: the gloomy family members are dressed in black while their ancestors are wearing white, which is typical of ghost characters. However, later you come to understand that Gomez has a white shirt and a red bow, which is a bit too much for the man who calls his daughter “a crime scene” when she puts on a light-yellow dress (The Addams Family EHS Play 2016).

The costumes are present-day – the Addams’ tendency to wear old-fashioned, elegant clothes is ignored (except Morticia’s long dress which is still quite modern). Despite this, the director did not forget that the ancestors (even though they are minor characters) come from different epochs: some of them are wearing corsets, old-fashioned dresses, and chemises whereas others have modern trouser suits, hats, and jackets. The change of costumes is symbolic. Wednesday chooses a yellow dress to look “normal,” so it is not a coincidence that Lucas’s mother is wearing a yellow suit, too, claiming that “yellow is life” (The Addams Family EHS Play 2016).

However, when Alice’s dark side is revealed with the help of Grandma’s potion, she rejects her false optimism and opts for a black outfit and tights with lots of holes in them. Morticia also changes her dress in the second act for a more sexually explicit one (which aligns with her desire to be more open), which even makes Gomez marvel that she has legs. Mal, Alice’s husband, is dressed in gray, which is also demonstrative as his suit emphasizes how totally ordinary he is. Therefore, the characters whose state of mind remains rather stable throughout the play do not change their costumes.

The comprehensive analysis of the production reveals that it has a lot of drawbacks as well as considerable advantages. The former mostly refer to the poor acting and interaction of the performers, who are very stiff and clumsy, whereas the latter includes an elaborate choice of costumes, proper lighting, and direction.

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Works Cited

“The Addams Family EHS Play 2016.” YouTube. Web.

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