Director: Cressida Carre
Music and Lyrics: Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx
Reviewer: Megan Pearce
Don’t be fooled by the fluffy puppets and happy actors on the poster – this is ‘not suitable for little monsters’. Catchy tunes like The Internet is for Porn, and If You Were Gay confirm this fact.
The show begins with a young Princeton, played by Richard Lowe, bounding on to Avenue Q asking what he should do with a BA in English. Instantly the language of the production is set up. Indeed, there are puppets, but you also see the actors playing them, dressed in black. The actors facial expressions match along with the puppets (or is that the other way round?)
All the songs will have you in stitches, there are rare serious moments, but you can be sure that they will be followed in quick succession by crudeness. The songs are so catchy that there is real danger of you leaving the theatre singing Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist within earshot of people who are unfortunate enough not to have seen the production. So be warned.
Stephen Arden plays Nicky, Bad Idea Bear and the perverted Trekkie Monster. His voice adapts phenomenally to all of these characters seamlessly, you can be sure that none of which are his natural singing voice. The hours of vocal rehearsals and puppet practices are extremely evident in the entire cast. There are only 11 actors that create this entire bustling street in New York.
The set feels quite nostalgic, with house walls peeling forward to reveal the rooms within, much like a child’s doll house.
Avenue Q transports the audience back to the days of learning about life through programmes like Sesame Street. There are short educational videos about how to spell, and on the other extreme, what a ‘one night stand’ is, you still get taught about life but just from an adult perspective. The only apt way to describe Avenue Q is like Sesame Street’s University reunion. Everyone leaves university with big, bold and bright ideas. Avenue Q brings you down to earth with a humorous bump. It is great for the whole family; if all your children have grown up and left home!
The only drawback for the production is the lighting. The auditorium feel as though they are on during odd parts of the action; whether this is to ‘include the audience’ cannot be known. It feels like the fourth wall keeps breaking taking you out of the world of mad puppets and rude jingles.
The show is not for the easily offended, Robert Lopez, one of the writers, went on after Avenue Q to write The Book of Mormon with South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, so you can understand that the humour level is quite lowbrow but somehow genius.
Runs until 30January 2016 | Image: Darren Bell