Writer: Jeff Whitts
Music: Robert Lopez & Jeff Marx
Reviewer: Caitlin Scollin
Both outrageous and uplifting, Avenue Q tells the story of Princeton (Lawrence Smith), a puppet straight out of college without money or a job. He finds himself in New York in search of a purpose. In doing so he meets a cast of vibrant characters, such as the bright and bubbly Kate Monster (Megan Armstrong) and the quarrelling couple next door, Christmas Eve (Saori Oda) and Brian (Oliver Stanley). The show never fails to make the audience laugh as it shows Princeton’s coming of age, while he learns what it is to live in the adult world. Throughout, he is constantly faced with topics such as friendship, work and love, primarily. This is Sesame Street with a grown-up twist.
Smith’s portrayal of Princeton is instantly lovable in his pursuit of purpose, working with Armstrong to create an unbelievably strong bond between the two puppets they manoeuvre. They are supported excellently by the rest of the cast, particularly by Oda’s Christmas Eve, who shines with impressive vocals and a character full of heart, personifying the spirit of the show.
Though a current of energy runs from start to end, it is fair to say that the majority of standout songs feature in the first half, such as If You Were Gay and Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist. These songs encompass the show as a whole; managing to make light of such serious issues in a way that does not offend the audience but encourages them to laugh along.
The show is carried by the clever use of puppetry, with designs from Paul Jomain (one of the original puppeteers who worked on The Muppets). The characters created are bright and fantastical, creating a parallel between the harsh cityscape they find themselves in. The actors managing the figures are integrated into the set, and so the audience’s eye is immediately drawn to the puppets themselves.
This is a feel good show for anyone who wants to lose their grip on reality for a few hours and find themselves transported to a downtown New York in which monsters and puppets walk alongside humans and sing about race, romance, and growing older.
Runs until 29 June 2019 | Image: Matt Martin