Book – Jeff Whitty
Music & Lyrics – Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx
Director – Jason Moore
Reviewer – Sarah Louise Forrester
The Public Reviews Rating:
`Avenue Q` was aptly written by Jeff Whitty – The script is so good it holds the adult audience’s attention for the full 2 hours 10 minutes. `Avenue Q` can be likened to an adult version of Sesame Street with ingeniously clever lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx. The overall experience is complete and unadulterated fun and laughs right from curtain up to the finale.
The story is set on `Avenue Q` – a run-down area of New York where the residents have hopes and dreams and very little else – the characters are believable and instantly likeable.
Before you even get to grips with the storyline you have to admire the skill of the puppeteers. Some of the characters are operated by two people and this is delivered with finesse and great teamwork.
The storyline revolves around Princeton a recent graduate looking for a purpose in life and Kate Monster a hopelessly romantic classroom assistant who dreams of opening a school for monsters. Setting the scene are additional characters – Rod, a closet gay, his roommate Nicky and Brian an unfunny comedian who is married to Christmas Eve, a Chinese therapist. The final two residents of `Avenue Q` are the charismatic Trekkie Monster who is obsessed by porn and Gary Coleman who has lost everything after peaking as a child star in `Different Strokes`.
The puppetry is both visually stimulating and a delight to behold. Without exception the entire cast are extremely talented with outstandingly strong voices that belt out tune after wonderfully un-pc tune. Sam Lupton plays both Princeton and Rod while Katharine Moraz takes on the roles of Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut. There is a delightful chemistry between the pair. At times you find yourself only looking at the puppets – at others you realise that the actors are mimicking the puppets expressions and emotions with precision, wit, and such skill that you are drawn in to Princeton and Kate’s relationship; them falling in and out of lust and love. The audience becomes oblivious that the puppets have the talented Lupton and Moraz at the end of their arm.
The refreshingly light hearted lyrics include some usually taboo and controversial subjects – Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist, It Sucks to Be Me, The Internet is For Porn and If You Were Gay being particular highlights. They are clever and funny without being unnecessarily vulgar.
Chris Thatcher gives a fantastic performance as Trekkie Monster, but is also entertaining playing the part of Nicky and the bear. Occasionally, Thatcher, Moraz and Lupton have to play more than one character at the same time and they switch flawlessly between characters – it really is remarkable how consistently sharp and slick their performances are.
Special mention must also go to Julie Yammanee who has the most perfect comedic timing as Christmas Eve. There were good performances also from Matthew J Henry as Gary and Edward Judge as Brian. The part of Mrs T and the second bad decision bear was confidently played at this performance by Arina Li.
Billed as not suitable for under 12`s it is not hard to see why. However, if you take a teenager you will have a friend for life.
Anna Louizos set design is static throughout the performance and the simplistic staging suits the show perfectly. The innovative use of screens that are lowered either side of stage to enhance the storyline really does add to the overall enjoyment of the show
The lighting designed by Howell Blinkley is clever and at times atmospheric.
The sound for this tour is provided by Terry Jardine for Autograph and the clarity was excellent. The director is Jason Moore, who also directed `Avenue Q` on Broadway.
It is rare to see a show and not be able to pick out a single flaw – however `Avenue Q` is charmingly laugh out loud, funny from beginning to end and the audience are transfixed. It does not lack any magic and is not to be missed!
Runs until 14th July then continues to tour to Leeds Grand Theatre and Dunstable Grove Theatre.Avenue Q - The Mayflower, Southampton,
Tags: Anna Louizos, Arina Li, Avenue Q, Chris Thatcher, Comedy, Dunstable Grove Theatre, Edward Judge, Howell Blinkley, Jason Moore, Jeff Marx, Julie Yammanee, Katharine Moraz, Leeds Grand Theatre, Matthew J Henry, Musical, Robert Lopez, Sam Lupton, Sesame Street, Southampton, Terry Jardine, The Mayflower