Stefan Kyriazis (Daily Express)‘clever lyrics, hummable tunes, joyously talented young performers and the filthiest puppet sex scene you will ever (hopefully) see anywhere in your life’
AVENUE Q kicks off its UK tour in fine and filthy style at the New Wimbledon Theatre and proves there is plenty of life in those foul-mouthed puppets. In fact, these days, we might need them more than ever.
The internet is for porn. Everyone is a little bit racist. There's a fine, fine line between a fairytale and lie – and, most important of all, what on Earth do you do with a BA in English? These are just a few of the things that far too many of us wrestle with on a daily basis and are further proof everything might make a little more sense if we all just head on down to Avenue Q. This pint-sized treat packs a punch with its clever lyrics, hummable tunes, joyously talented young performers and the filthiest puppet sex scene you will ever (hopefuly) see anywhere in your life.
The show is basically an X-rated Sesame Street with plenty of life lessons but none of the platitudes. The music and lyrics by Robert Lopez (who co-created The Book Of Mormon and co-wrote the biggest hits from Frozen) and Jeff Marx hit every spot, sweet and sharp, with unerring accuracy.
There were roars of recognition and laughter throughout the night at the barrage of barbs aimed at every feeble foible of our fumbling attempts to navigate grown-up life. Crucially, though, there is also compassion for human frailties. And some cracking tunes.
The puppets are purposefully caricatures and the puppeteers are plainly visible, acting and singing alongside their characters. There is no attempt to suspend reality. And yet, somehow, when bespectacled blue and Republican Rod wrestled with his feelings for his best friend Nicky and had his heart broken, the whole audience sighed along with him.
When furry monster girl Kate riffed on racism we laughed at the sharp barbs but also empathised. Everyone is a little bit racist, indeed. Everyone, in fact, is a little bit human. Monster or otherwise.
A tiny cast multitasks between multiple characters but the show never feels small. Its intimacy is also its strength, making its universal themes larger than life.
Of course, Trekkie Monster brings the house down with The Internet Is For Porn and Tom Steedon does a grand job of also bringing Nicky and one of the Bad Idea Bears to individual life.
There were also cheers for Kate Monster's heartbreaking There's A Fine, Fine Line but the sensational Cecily Redman effortlessly morphed into her rival Lucy The Slut for a showstopping rendition of Special.
Lawrence Smith also manages a winning combination, engaging and singing beautifully as wide-eyed Princeton, while also playing the raffish Rod with charm.
The cast is uniformly excellent, fizzing with energy and everyone has a chance to shine. Fittingly they all, ahem, come together on the truly outrageous You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You're Makin' Love). I still can't quite get some of the images conjured up on the stage out of my poor mind.
This is a touring production, so the staging is fairly simple and serviceable. However, this helpfully fits the rather old-school TV children show concept.
With little trickery and no lavish sets or costumes, this show relies totally on the charms of its concept, the sharp truths of its message and the unbridled energy of its cast. Based on the opening night's cheering crowd and the big grin on my face as I headed home, it totally succeeded.