More educationally focused on STDs than ABCs, Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez's brilliant Avenue Q is a jaw-achingly funny pastiche of children's television and the twenty-something rom-com.
With songs like "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" and "The Internet is for Porn", the cute and crude puppets of Jeff Whitty’s quickly written - and aptly “whitty”- musical teach moralistic lessons to their adult audience, articulating truths about life and relationships which subtly cut through the fluffy covering of this Tony Award winning show. Avenue Q is a long walk from Sesame Street. Princeton, an out of work English Literature graduate, moves into the neighbourhood to find his purpose and expectedly fails miserably. Instead, he finds a host of colourful and recognisable characters, each dissatisfied with their lot in life and reaching for that end of episode happy ever after.
Oscar the Grouch would not dare to dwell in the dented garbage cans of Anna Louizos's inventive and textured set. Unfolding and exploding, the Sesame Street inspired design of dilapidated houses and shabby staircases is creative and well-observed, colourfully lit by Howell Binkley and littered with nostalgic treats for the imagination.
Director Jason Moore’s cast are uniformly brilliant, handling the multiple-roles required like professional puppeteers. As go-getting graduate Princeton, Sam Lupton is vocally and comically sweet, delivering the role with spirit and pluck. Chris Thatcher performs with all of the passion and enthusiasm of a Trekkie Monster with a clean browsing history, whilst Julie Yammanee’s Christmas Even subverts racial stereotypes with wit and warmth. Katharine Moraz is simply outstanding as kindergarten teaching assistant Kate Monster, giving a performance which says more about the human heart and the world of dating than six seasons of Sex and the City.
Alive with a heart that beats strongly beneath its fur, Avenue Q is the modern musical at its best. Hilariously funny, emotionally powerful and attuned to its audience, it spit-roasts Miss Piggy as a sacrifice to the gods of children’s entertainment, serving up something deliciously fresh to a ravenous audience.