Because we're Addamses

Well, that's not what I expected. That's the Broadway Theatre over there, and I don't think I've ever been more surprised to see a place. I mean, let's be real, if I say the Broadway in Catford, what kind of mental image do you conjure up in that wee head of yours? Some sort of grotty arts centre that hasn't been painted since 1972 perhaps. Or maybe a tower of glass and steel and fingerpaintings. Either way, I'm willing to put money on your not picturing this gothic extravaganza, complete with stone gargoyles and pointy windows, and a grimy slate roof, and a grass-fringed canopy, and, and, and... it's like a theatre built out b-movie off-cuts, and I love it.


If ever there was a theatre that deserves to be haunted by a maniacal man with an evil laugh and a penchant for opera cloaks, it's this one.

Even better, I'm here to see The Addams Family. Which I didn't know was a musical, but is apparently a musical.

I'm really, very, excited.

There's a ticket checker sat on a stool just inside the door. He looks up when I come in.

"Um, box office?" I ask.

"One minute down the road. Left-hand side."

Really? "Really? To pick up tickets?" I say. He must think that I still need to buy mine.

He nods. Really.


I back out of the foyer and follow his directions. One minute down the road. Left-hand side.

I follow the wall of the Broadway, keeping it on my left-hand side.

The wall slopes away from me. I go with it. There's another canopy here. Slightly less glamorous than the one overhanging the main entrance.

"Box Office," reads a sign over the door. It's in the art deco font that instantly makes me think of liquid-kneed girls wearing feather boas and long strands of pearls to the cinema.

There is, in fact, a young girl standing outside. She's not wearing a feather boa though. Or pearls of any length. Instead, she's got a black dress and has long dark plaits hanging either side of her face. As someone who owns multiple Wednesday-dresses, I find myself liking her immediately.


Inside, the box office is a cartoon version of the thirties, with shiny turquoise walls and light-up frames in the shape of New York skyscrapers around each of the four service windows.

I give my name, confirm the first line of my address, and walk away with a ream of ticket stock (one ticket for my address, another with the instruction that it is to be collected at box office, the third is my receipt, while the fourth is my actual ticket, and the only one I actually needed). Much as I hate to hate. Especially at a theatre that is still providing paper tickets. But perhaps there can be some middle ground between wasting paper and the soulessness of e-ticketing.

And while we're at it. Put the collection point inside the theatre. I mean, really.

I rip off the ticket and stuff the rest in my bag. It's going straight in the recycling as soon as I get home.

Back outside, back around the building, and back to the entrance. The ticket checker points me down the stairs. I'm in the studio space this evening.

Here at the Broadway, they do thing proper. No sudden shift from old-school glamour to boxy whiteness down here just because we're in the secondary venue. The walls are mustard-gold, the corners are corniced, the carpets... mind-bending in their intricacies. There's even a proper foyer down here. One with tables and chairs, and a small bar tucked away its own separate space as if even the idea of serving and consuming alcohol is too shameful, and may well result in a little visit from the prohibition enforcement officers.


Down some more stairs, and there's a second foyer.

On one of the tables, two woman have taken up post with a book of raffle tickets and what looks like a stack of freesheets.

"Can I get one of those?" I ask.

"That's fifty pee."

Oh. Okay. Well, not a freesheet then. I dig around in my purse looking for charge. I know I had a 50p, because I got one from the programme seller at the Bromley Little Theatre, but it seems to have disappeared to whatever mythical land all useful things in my bag eventually make their way too. I'm forced to hand over a precious one pound coin instead.

Fiftypeesheet in hand, I find a spare corner and look to see what my coin has bought me.

A single piece of A4, folded in half, with a cast list inside. To be fair though, they did print it in colour, and that shit's expensive.

There's something else though. An insert. "Utopian Entertainers," it reads. "Music Hall." Then a date. They're advertising their next show. Good for them. I glance down at the address. "Catford Synagogue."


Another venue.

I stuff it in my bag, next to the useless ticket-stock, and try to pretend that I haven't seen it.

I focus on the posters instead. They're advertising the shows coming up in the main house. And they are troubling. There's some kind of Michael Jackson tribute act, which, in a post-HBO documentary world, is worrisome all by itself, and some other music things. No really marathon-material, either of them. This would be alright, if everything continued to be unmarathonable for the rest of the year, but I saw a Kate Tempest show being advertised outside, which has not only launched the main house into the land of marathon-qualifying venues, but also, quite possibly, sealed my fate as a failure, as goddamit, the show is already sold out.


Thankfully, there's no time to be thinking about that right now. Seating is unreserved and there's a lot of people here. I better concentrate on getting into this venue first before worrying about the one upstairs.

It's dark in here. Really dark.

And there's a strange red glow.

I stumble around, trying to make sense of the space.

There are a few short rows of chairs over on the right. But no one is sitting in them.

A front of houser appears, a folded up chair tucked under each arm.

"Put them on the end, here," someone directs him.

This show must have sold really well. They're having to stuff more seats in.

On the left there is a proper bank of raked seating. I head for these. I don't want to be stuck in the weird corner.

"Is anyone sitting there?" I say, spotting an empty space in the middle of a row.

No one is, and I apologise my way down to row as I make my way to it.


A family arrive. They start analysing the seat situation. "There's two there," says the daughter. "One there, two down there."

"One there, another over there," comes the reply from the dad. "Two there."

"Two at the back. One down here. One there."

"You sit there."

"Nah, I'll go with mum."

But mum has other ideas, she's already squeezing her way into the row behind me.

"Do you want us to move down?" someone asks.

"They're fine," says mum. "As far away as I can get from them, the better," she laughs.

"Are there programmes?" someone asks.

"Nah, just a flyer. I didn't see any programmes," comes the reply.

"There are two women selling them just out there."

"I didn't see them. I got two of these instead," she says, holding out the fiftypeesheets. "Fifty pee each!" she exclaims.

"Fifty pee?!"

"Fifty pee!"

"That's the sort of price they should be."

"You're right."

"Oh look! The musicians are right next to Don. That'll wake him up. No falling asleep there."

I look over. There's a small band tucked in between the stage and the seating.

A front of houser arrives, and she starts flashing her torch around as she tries to squish the last few people in before the start.

The red lights dim.

The show starts.

A few minutes later, pinpricks of light pop up around the audience as the phones come out.

At first, it's to take photos. But once a phone is out, it's hard to put away, and soon Whatsapp screens are appearing all over the place.

A young woman sitting in front of me rapidly taps out long messages with very long nails, without once glancing up at the stage.

In between the screens, people flap around with their programmes.

I reach into my back, feeling around amongst the books and floating cough sweets to find my prize. Finally, I grasp it, and pull it out. My fan. Thank goodness. I flick it open and give myself a quick blast. It's so hot down here. The kind of dead, intense, heat that you only find in windowless rooms.

The show continues.

It's... an Addams Family musical. That is the thing that is happening right now. There's Lurch. And Morticia. And Gomez. And Fester. And Pugsley. And Wednesday. And... her boyfriend. And... songs. Yup. That is what they are. Almost definitely.

Someone in the row in front gets up. She's escaping. The long-nailed texter looks over. "Are you leaving?" she whispers.

Yes. She is.

The long nailed-texter also gets up. She's leaving too.

A few minutes later, another pair make a break for it.

I furiously fan myself. The air is as thick as smog down here.

After some meta-nonsense from Fester, we break for an interval.


I get up as the audience surges out around me, heading for the bar.

I lean back against my chair, still fanning myself. The red glow seeps under my skin.

I'm beginning to wonder which of my many bad deeds was the one that had me sent to this hell. Because hell is surely what this place must be.

The fan isn't working. If anything, it's just wafting more warm air over me.

I have to get out of here. I can't breathe.

I grab my jacket and bag and rush out, up the stairs and back towards the entrance.

It's raining. The sort of gentle summer rain which you smell rather than feel. It's so deliciously cool. I stand out there, breathing in the smell of wet tarmac.

It occurs to me that I don't just have to stand here. I can go for a walk. I could walk all the way down the road, and keep going until I reached the train station. And then, well, I could get a train and go home.

It's nearly nine o'clock. Nine o-bloody-clock. I've put in ninety minutes already this evening. Ninety air-less minutes. By rights, that's a full-length show.

By the time I have all these thoughts, I'm already tapping in my Oyster card at Catford Bridge and looking at the board to see when the next train to London Bridge is arriving.


Well, I guess that settles that then.