Avenue Q – Review

Published On February 12, 2014 | By Celia Mullins | Theatre & Arts Reviews & Previews

The Old Market
11th – 15th February 2014
8pm
£12/ £17.50

Since its conception in 1999, Avenue Q has graced Broadway and the West End, won 3 Tony awards including best musical, and received the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding New Musical. Finally, it has landed at Brighton’s Old Market theatre.

The “American musical featuring singing puppets” tag is likely to be a stomach churning prospect for many of us Brits, but Avenue Q shouldn’t be written off as a sickly Sesame Street reunion just yet. These Muppets have done a lot of growing up since we last checked in.

Our protagonist, recent graduate Princeton, moves to the residential wasteland of Avenue Q where he attempts to negotiate the post-uni-slump and find his “purpose” in life. His new neighbours include the fragrant Kate Monster, a sexualised cookie monster Trekkie, a closet gay banker called Rod and Lucy the Slut, Avenue Q’s answer to Miss Piggy. The show certainly delivers on shock factor, often with unflinching observational comedy proudly presented in a showy chorus. Numbers such as “Everyone is a little bit racist” and “The internet is made for Porn” give the show a wicked edge. It’s hard to take offence when both the puppets and the good natured delivery are softening the blow, meaning the show gets away with a lot, graphic puppet sex springing to mind here. Beneath the x rated shenanigans is tucked a sweetness, as the cast occasionally break into sentimentality and moralise on the everyday tribulations of life.

Of course, the juxtaposition of the childlike, Sesame Street elements with adult content is comical; the use of children’s educational videos is a particular master-stroke here. In less expert hands this could have become little more than an empty gimmick, yet the show is saved from this fate by a solid foundation of real talent and a wit infused script. Most of the cast members are exceptional in terms of their character acting, singing, and comedic delivery. A highlight was the magnetic Christmas Eve, the Japanese therapist. Each character is informed by both puppet and actor, neither overwhelming the other. This double blow results in some really strong characters.

Underneath the show’s x rated content, it isn’t particularly gritty and rounds off in just the sort of warm and fuzzy way you might expect. It may be a too brash or too easy for some, but love it or hate it, it’s impossible to be bored and you have to admit it’s entertaining, funny and extremely well executed.

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About The Writer

I grew up in Cambridge but after studying History at Sussex University, I couldn't bring myself to leave Brighton! As well as writing for We Love Brighton I study Journalism and hope to one day make it as a features writer. Brighton is the perfect place to get inspired!