Peter May (Church of England Newspaper)The catchiest tunes musical comedy has to offer
Once a staple on the West End circuit for five years, Avenue Q has since enjoyed sporadic comeback appearances touring and has once again arrived at the Greenwich Theatre for a limited two-week run.
Created by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez (Co-creator of the Book of Mormon and writer of the songs for Disney’s Frozen), Avenue Q is an irresistibly charming musical which tells the story of the loveable characters on a crummy New York street trying to make sense of life’s burning questions and issues.
The show involves a mixture of humans and monster Muppet-style characters, but it is the puppets that are clearly the stars here. This is not a show for young children by any means even though the premise shares a likely comparison to a raunchy and bawdy episode of Sesame Street.
Using puppets allows the show to tackle issues such as sex, racism and homosexuality in ways that hadn’t been done on the stage before this production hit the West End or its origin on Broadway over 10 years ago.
These issues and more are explored through some of the catchiest tunes musical comedy has to offer. From the playful and hummable Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist and If You Were Gay to the heartfelt Fantasies Come True and Fine Line, the lyrics are still very funny and painfully truthful.
The premise is a fairly well-trodden scenario amongst young adults, which involves trying to find one’s direction in life. The story follows graduate Princeton as he lands on the street trying to find his purpose. There he meets are they/aren’t they Bert and Ernie-esque gay couple Rod and Nicky, internet ‘sexpert’ Trekkie Monster, sickly sweet Kate Monster and child actor Gary Coleman.
The puppeteers make no attempt to hide themselves away from performing the characters and, dressed in black, are on full view to the audience. Sometimes you will find yourself watching the expressions on the performers faces rather than watching the puppet as they truly engross themselves in their characters.
Underneath the slightly sickly sweet exterior there is a great deal of wit with a sharp insight into what has gone badly wrong with today’s society and what route we should be taking to correct its mistakes.