Music/Lyrics: Robert Lopez & Jeff Marx
Book: Jeff Whitty
Director: Cressida Carré
Reviewer: John Roberts
What do you do with a BA in English? A question that plagues many a university graduate and one that is making young Princeton really question exactly what his purpose in life is. Having found himself living on Avenue Q and struggling to balance work, love and friendship only the inhabitants of this quirky yet hilariously upfront community can help him find it.
Having first arrived in the UK 13 years ago, Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx’s hilarious take on adult life using puppets as the main protagonists is just as hilarious now as it was then, in fact with the current climate of having to make everything PC and above board, the humour and the subject matter seems to be even funnier – how long this may last, is the real question, especially in a slightly quieter than usual Chester audience. However, Cressida Carré has given the show a definite stamp of individuality that marks it from other versions while still staying incredibly faithful to those original productions.
Richard Evans’ street like set, is designed to feel incredibly familiar (Sesame Street anyone?) and provides many hidden apartments within its depths. It also provides a fun playground for the strong ensemble to manipulate their puppets and the emotions of the audience.
In the dual role of Princeton and the Broadway-loving republican Rod, Lawrence Smith gives a strong performance and gives plenty of vocal uniqueness to each of his characters, however, it must be said that he is perhaps the weakest out of the ensemble in regards to the puppetry, failing to really nail the lip-syncing to make the characters really shine. Cecily Redman is a delight as Kate Monster – Princeton’s love interest and the larger than life singer Lucy the Slut, giving the characters real depth, her renditions of There’s A Fine Fine Line and Mix Tape being some of the best this reviewer has ever heard. Strong support is also given Oliver Stanley as the unemployed Brian and Nicholas McLean as child Tv Star-come Avenue Q superintendent Gary Coleman.
In the role of Asian-American Christmas Eve, Saori Oda gives the role plenty of energy, however, one feels that occasionally Oda’s performance is a little too over-the-top and feels slightly out of place in comparison to the rest of the company. The show-stealing performance of the production comes courtesy of Tom Steedon as Nicky and Trekkie Monster, Steedon, here, managing to wring every ounce of comic potential from the two roles.
Avenue Q– is a musical that provides plenty to laugh at, and certainly brings plenty of tongue-in-cheek humour to the streets of Chester this week.
Runs until 2 March 2019 | Image: Matt Martin