Avenue Q

Avenue QWhat do you do when you’ve outgrown Sesame Street, where each day is brought to you by a different letter of the alphabet with upmost certainty? You move to the ambiguous adult world of Avenue Q.

A puppet, Princeton (Matthew Predny), arrives in Avenue Q with a BA and an uncertain future. He meets the puppet of his dreams, Kate Monster (Madeleine Jones) who one day hopes to build a special school exclusively for monsters. Will they get it on, for how long, and how loud will it be? Princeton’s devotion to Kate is not helped by the attention from flirtatious seductress, Lucy T Slut (Madeleine Jones), who bears more than a slight resemblance to a certain pig.

The residents of Avenue Q all face uncertainty. Rod (Matthew Predny) and Nicky (Nicholas Richard) are two male puppets living together. They are definitely not gay, but, just like Bert and Ernie, the rumours do persist. The local superintendent is Gary Coleman (Shauntelle Benjamin), the burnt out child acting star from the TV sitcom Different Strokes (Coleman himself was going to play the role but failed show up for a meeting. He later threatened to sue Avenue Q but never went ahead with the law suit) and Brian (Justin Smith) who has just been made unemployed and his stereotypical Japanese wife, Christmas Eve (Rowena Vilar).

The actors and puppeteers are clearly having a ball. The Puppeteers appear on stage with their puppets. There is no hiding under desks here. After a while you hardly notice who’s pulling the strings. So much so that when the cast takes their bows minus the puppets you wonder who is who. Incidentally, don’t puppets deserve their final bows too?

Avenue Q debuted on Broadway in 2003 where it played until 2009. The early naughties appear to be something of a golden age for naughty puppets. In 2002 The American comedy series Crank Yankers premiered. This featured actual prank calls that were re-enacted by Puppets. Then, in 2004, the creators of South Park released the unrelentingly cynical and rather brilliant feature film Team America: World Police, a spoof of the action movie genre done entirely with Puppets. It satirised everything from American foreign policy to the celebrities who spoke out against the War in Iraq.

The politically incorrect humour of South Park is a big influence on Avenue Q, as acknowledged by its director, Jo Turner in the programme notes. Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist is the standout song. It delights in a number of jokes based on racial stereotypes before turning the message on its head by making a plea for racial harmony. The joke, therefore, is not on any particular race but on the advocates of political correctness. Another highlight, is The Internet is For Porn. You can’t really go wrong with a title like that, and they don’t. Especially when the chorus is sung by the deep voiced Trekkie Monster, who loves his X-rated cyber action in the same way that other monsters love chocolate chip cookies. Curiously, Trekkie doesn’t seem to be devotee of Captain Kirk or Mr Spock. A missed opportunity perhaps?

These two songs come halfway through the first act and the show never again reaches those same heights of poignancy and hilarity, though Christmas Eves’ The More You Ruv Someone is reminiscent of Kim Jong-il’s I’m so Ronery in Team America World Police. Nevertheless the show is just damn good fun throughout. It is a thought provoking mix of cynicism laced with optimism. There are some interesting comments on the certainty of childhood compared to the ambiguity of your early twenties.

Ticket are over $100 which may put some punters off. It is fun, but not a must see. Still, big fury porn-loving monsters are hard to resist.


AVENUE Q
music and lyrics Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx | book Jeff Whitty

Director Jo Turner                   

Venue: Enmore Theatre | 118-132 Enmore Road Newtown, NSW
Dates: July 2 – 18, 2015
Tickets: $104.10 – $79.10
Bookings: (02) 9550 3666





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