As ever, I am a million years behind what happens in theatre-land. As we discuss regularly, I have no idea about West End shows and musicals and the like. I hadn’t heard of Avenue Q. But I do enjoy going along for an evening’s entertainment.
Last night I was introduced to the musical comedy Avenue Q, which has been doing the rounds since 2003. It has been massively successful too, picking up all kinds of awards. It has arrived with a bang in Leicester. The show brings a band of slightly sweary Muppet-like puppets on stage with human actors. They make a devastating assault on the human condition.
The plot itself is relatively straightforward – an aspiring new graduate takes his first steps in the world, trying to discover his purpose whilst building (and breaking) relationships with his new neighbours on Avenue Q. In many regards, it’s a play that is really an elaborate soap opera, with so much of the detail reliant on the relationships between the small company of actors, puppeteers and puppets.
The Internet is for Porn
It pushes hard on themes of sex and porn. Well, it’s about human relationships. So sex and porn come up a lot. This sits a little incongruously when coming out of the mouth of a furry Sesame Street character – but this successfully makes the rather incisive humour and often slightly dirty song lyrics even funnier than they would otherwise have been. I like the history of cartoons and puppets for adults in the show’s programme. It shows that we have always been burying the grit and filth of real life under a thin veneer of wholesome family fun.
There is an interesting slight discomfort caused by musical numbers like the instant classic “Everyone’s a little bit rascist.” A further odd dynamic is caused by the superintendent of Avenue Q being a fictionalised depiction of ex-child actor Gary Coleman. Coleman is often played by a woman, but not here in Leicester. Apparently the part in the original Broadway show was offered to the real Coleman but he didn’t turn up to the meeting. All of this bizarre, yet gentle humour adds to the skit on Sesame Street. But there is a very large number of belly laughs and guffaws along the way.
One week to catch the show
I seem to always be at the shows that feature puppets – Madagascar being the most recent. I am always fascinated by the skill of the actors who work with them, and Avenue Q is no exception. You will laugh a lot. Especially if you think that song titles like “The Internet is for Porn” and “What Do You Do With A BA In English?” sound amusing. They are exactly as funny as they sound so I think it depends on your sense of humour. Oh, and leave the kids at home!
Avenue Q is on at the Haymarket Theatre until 25/05/19. Book your tickets on the Haymarket website.
Thank you to the Haymarket Theatre for gifting me tickets to the Press Night.