More educationally focused on STDs than ABCs, Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez's brilliant AvenueQ 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 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 graduate, moves into the neighbourhood to find his purpose and 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.
Director Jason Moore’s cast are uniformly brilliant, handling the multiple-roles required like professional puppeteers and convincingly bringing their felt co-stars vividly to life. Adam Pettigrew plays go-getting graduate Princeton with the hopeless optimism of yesteryear whilst Chris Thatcher’s Trekkie Monster pleasingly grunts his way through his numbers and some suspicious internet sites. As kindergarten teacher and New York singleton Kate Monster, Rachel Jerram is excellent, played with a neurotic sweetness and a underlying monstrous gruffness.
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.
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 and children’s entertainment, serving up something deliciously fresh to a ravenous audience.