Avenue Q at New Wimbledon Theatre
Avenue Q is a musical like no other. Muppets but for adults is possibly the best way to describe it. We meet Princeton who is new to Avenue Q and is determined to find his purpose in life. Amongst his neighbours are Kate Monster who falls for Princeton, Brian and Christmas Eve, a couple who are struggling with their respective careers, Rod who is struggling to come to terms with his sexuality and his flatmate Nicky as well as Trekkie Monster who is obsessed with porn and the superintendent Gary Coleman.
The show seemed luder and ruder than ever. The audience watch puppets ‘making love,’ sing about how ‘Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist,’ and talk/sing about porn throughout the show. It isn’t a show for the easily offended but if you like your comedy crude then this is the show for you.
The characters are a combination of puppets and humans but with everyone interacting as if the puppets are human. This is the real unique aspect of the show and Avenue Q could easily fail should the audience not be convinced by this. This cast were brilliant at this aspect, the syncronisity of the voice and the mouth moving, the gestures that the puppets made and the actors own expressions when playing the puppets were all done with such precision I easily believed that the puppets were real. I was particularly impressed with Lawrence Smith who vocalised Princeton and Rod and Cecily Redman who vocalised Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut. Both of them switched between the characters with ease and showcased a completely different vocal quality within the two roles.
Each of the actors in the cast brought a fresh quality to the show. The cast were young but this worked well when you consider the ages of the characters. Saori Oda as Christmas Eve had me in stitches laughing on numerous occasions and she had a lot more energy than I have seen Christmas Eve played with previously.
Not only was this a very strong cast in terms of acting and puppetry but also vocally. Whilst many of the songs in the show aim at laugher there are a few very poignant moments, including ‘There’s A Fine Fine Line’ at the end of Act One. Redman sang this beautifully and it contrasted with her throaty sound in ‘Special,’ so much so, that I was in awe of her vocal versatility.
The set is simple but clever and they chose not to depart from the tried and tested formula for this show of a few houses with windows and doors that opened in order to show the inhabitants throughout the show.
My only query would be is if some of the jokes are getting a little dated. I have seen the show numerous times so I did know what was coming however it would be nice if a few references were made more topical. Asides from the Donald Trump reference in ‘For Now,’ it remained as I had seen it over the past few years.
Avenue Q is a brilliantly funny, irreverent show which is not for the feint hearted. Whilst ‘Donald Trump’ and many others may just be For Now I can see why this show continues to tour and pull in the audiences.
You can find out more about Avenue Q and its tour on their website. It is playing at New Wimbledon Theatre until Saturday 9th February 2019.