If you’re like me, it’s likely that you grew up watching Muppet’s and Sesame Street and along with Disney the stories would seem to promise that, whatever happens, everything would turn out OK in the end. The modern day coming-of-age parable of Avenue Q (conceived by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx) takes a second look at this idea, focusing on the fact that life doesn’t often live up to these premises
When you hear that two of the show’s standout songs are ‘The Internet is for Porn’ and ‘Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist’, you get the tongue-in-cheek tone of the show and that this will not be an ordinary musical. With regular references to sex, swear words and other adult themes this is defiantly a show that is “not suitable for little monsters” or those who are easily offended. But the show appeals to everyday people, had me uncontrollable laughter throughout and some of the offending lines felt a little more innocent coming from the sweet faces of the puppets.
The show is unlike most puppet shows, as the puppeteers appear clearly alongside the puppets on stage while they move and voice the characters, you may think that this would be hugely distracting but the puppets are given so much life by the puppeteers that you often forget they are there, focusing in on the bright and colourful puppet characters.
The skill of the puppeteers was really displayed when you realise the issues that come with multiple characters being voiced by one puppeteer, as it would often be the case that one puppeteer would operate one puppet on stage while voicing it and also voicing a second character at the same time. This is an issue that I only noticed near the end after watching almost all of the show without realising this was happening.
Considering the fact that the actors are controlling dancing puppets and putting on the character’s voices they have wonderful singing voices, I especially enjoyed Stephen Arden who provides the voice for Nicky/Trekkie Monster and Bad Idea Bear and Sarah Harlington who voiced Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut. The songs are very catchy and you will find yourself singing them to yourself on the way home and probably to the rest of the office by the end of the week.
The staging is very simple, with very few props but uses fold out sets to symbolise different character’s flats. There are also animated pieces, imitating the intermission cartoons often seen in Sesame Street, these were displayed on screens above the stage and my only criticism would be that some could argue that the screens were very small for a stage as big as The Queen’s Theatre and although the cartoons were short they could often be hard to see.
Avenue Q was previously performed nearby at The Brookside Theatre, Romford but the difference here is this is an official part of the UK tour by the ‘See a Door’ Theatre Company. With tickets still available I highly recommend going to see this show while it’s in town as the evening was fantastic and will have me laughing for weeks to come
Nicky/Trekkie Monster/Bad Idea Bear – Stephen Arden
Kate Monster/ Lucy The Slut – Sarah Harlington
Christmas Eve – Arnia II
Princeton/Rod – Richard Lowe
Brian – Richard Morse
Mrs T/Bad Idea Bear/ 2nd Arm – Jessica Parker
Gary Coleman – Etisyai Philip
Ensemble – Rhiane Drummond
Ensemble – Gracie Lai
Ensemble – Cameron Sharp
Ensemble – Josh Trevendale