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Avenue Q (tour – Cambridge)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Theatre deliberately blurs the boundaries between what is real and what is simulated. Masks and puppets add their own dimension, especially when well-handled. Avenue Q is a fine example of inanimate objects taking on an actuality which outstrips that of their manipulators. The cartoonesque rod puppets created by Rick Lyon often seem more human than their grey-clad flesh-and-blood alter egos.

As musicals go, Robert Lopez’s score is not memorable, though the lyrics created with Jeff Marx are neat and pack the requisite punch when necessary. The brownstone rooming block which forms Anna Louizos’ set has a proper appearance of quirky urban decay. You can see why the people we meet – from the unemployed graduate to the janitor, the teaching assistant to the would-be comedian – are at home there.

It’s a young cast for a young people’s show, though one with a message of tolerance which is for all age groups. Rachel Jerram is excellent as Kate, looking for love and a worthwhile career, and makes much of her “Fine, fine line” ballad. Adam Pettigrew plays Princeton (the graduate without a job), Edward Judge is Brian and Matthew J Henry almost steals the show as Gary. Jacqueline Tate, Katharine Moraz and Luke Kempner are all good.


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