24 May 2011 WOS Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews From the moment the curtain rises on Avenue Q, with a short and cute introductory cartoon, giving way to a street set filling with muppet-like puppet characters and humans, to the strains of the Avenue Q theme, you are in no doubt where the inspiration for this show is drawn, and you are in familiar feel-good territory. However, as our ‘hero’ Princeton arrives in this down at heel suburb of New York, fresh from college, wondering “What do you do with a B.A. in English?”, and encounters his new neighbours, who each believes “It Sucks to Be Me”, you realise that this is not quite the safe and saccharine world of Sesame Street. It is more ‘ Sesame Street meets Sondheim, where every character, puppet and human alike, have their flaws and their failings.
Where the legendary US kids show educates the audience in their ABCs and times tables, this very adult pastiche handles the more knotty problems of the human condition, including racism, sexuality and crushed ambition.
Among the cute and fluffy puppets, we have Katey Monster, a teaching assistant who dreams of love, and of running her own school; Rod, a closeted gay banker who secretly yearns for his straight flat mate, and Trekkie Monster, a hermit-like grouch, who delights in singing the less academic benefits of the worldwide web, in “The Internet is for Porn”. The humans are Brian and Christmas Eve (
Edward Judge and Jacqueline Tate) - an out of work loafer, and his Japanese therapist girlfriend, and Gary Coleman ( Matthew J Henry) - former child star from TVs Diff’rent Strokes, now reduced to janitor on the block.
With clever songs, by
Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, who also devised the show, that have a cheery feel-good bounce, but often angst-ridden lyrics – “If You Were Gay”, “Everyone’s A Little bit Racist”, “There’s a Fine, Fine, Line”, “Schadenfreude” and “For Now” for example – and a real laugh-out-loud script (book by Jeff Whitty) Avenue Q is a rare joy. Although covering some tough issues, the show never delves too deeply, preferring to make us laugh at our own preconceptions and reactions.
Avenue Q’s unique selling point is that the puppets are operated and accompanied on stage by actor/puppeteers who not only animate and voice the parts, but act their hearts out. Through the magic of theatre, they transpose all emotion onto the puppet, whilst remaining visible to the audience at all times. It sounds crazy, but somehow it works - you utterly believe in the characters, whilst appreciating the human performances behind them. Adam Pettigrew, who animates Princeton, is superb, and Rachel Jerram delights in her dual role as the sweet and homely Katey Monster, and sassy siren, Lucy the Slut. Ably assisted by Katharine Moraz, and Chris Thatcher, for who top marks must go, in his wildly contrasting roles of Nicky, Trekkie Monster and one of the ‘bad decision bears’, showing a staggering vocal range and great comic timing.
Jason Moore and brought to regional audiences by The Theatre Royal Bath and Cameron Mackintosh, Avenue Q is only slightly let down by an overly schmaltzy happy ending. A sometimes shocking, riotous and surprisingly tuneful evening is guaranteed. - by Simon Cole Related Content Back to Southwest Homepage
Score Comment Date - I saw it in Plymouth and wouldn't ever get bored of it if I saw it every night.. Bloody brilliant and really really funny. Well done cast xxxxx - T.Walker 29 Feb 12
Subscribe to our free newsletter
Featured Editor's Picks
: The economic impact of Arts & Culture in the UK Infographic When Culture Secretary Maria Miller called for the arts to make their "economic case" for subsidy, t... Plays Cast: Harry Potter star in Southwark Moment, more for Branagh's Macbeth Bonnie Wright, best known for playing Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter films, will make her stage d... Brief Encounter with ... The Kite Runner's Ben Turner Ben Turner stars in the stage version of the bestselling book The Kite Runner, which runs at Liverpo... Titus Andronicus (RSC) This latest production of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, to borrow from football punditry, is a p... : Britain's outdoor theatres Take Five With half-term approaching, the weather (hopefully) set to improve for the bank holiday weekend and ... West End Live returns to Trafalgar Square next month West End Live, a weekend of free entertainment from top London shows, will return to Trafalgar Squar... : 'I carry the ghost of Gregory Peck on my shoulders' Robert Sean Leonard Actor Robert Sean Leonard is currently playing Atticus Finch in Timothy Sheader's production of To K... To Kill A Mockingbird Twenty years ago, a young Robert Sean Leonard appeared on the London stage with Alan Alda in... X Factor musical titled I Can't Sing!, opens Palladium March 2014 The forthcoming X Factor musical will be called I Can't Sing! The Musical and will premiere at the L... Donmar stages Nick Payne premiere, Wesker's Roots & Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus The Donmar Warehouse has announced its new season, which features the premiere of Nick Payne's new p...