|Avenue Q , at the Richmond Theatre|
A delightful show , full of heart
If you were a fan of the Muppet Show or Sesame Street during childhood you'll recognise the puppet characters in Avenue Q.
The actors in this award-winning musical (which runs until this weekend at the Richmond Theatre), are able to operate the hand held puppets in such versatile fashion that after a while you begin to forget there's an actor involved at all.
The storyline is based on the trials and tribulations of the residents of Avenue Q, who live in a street on the downbeat side of town and who all believe themselves to be losers.
The first song from Princeton ( Richard Lowe) 'What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?' kicks off his introduction to the grown-up world as he wonders how he will find a job, while 'It Sucks To Be Me' sees everyone vying to be the one with the most miserable life. There is lonely Kate Monster ( Sarah Harlington) who falls for the guileless Princeton seeking his 'purpose' in life, the quarrelling couple Christmas Eve and her hapless out of work partner and would-be comedian Brian ( Richard Morse) and the two male friends, Nicky and Rod, sharing a flat, but not love. The characters lament the fact that programmes such as Sesame Street assured them that they were special, but as adults they realise that life has its limitations.
The caretaker of the apartments is washed-up tv star Gary Coleman (Etisyai Philip), while upstairs is Cookie Monster, who spends his days inside, occasionally throwing open his window to shout at everyone. One of the highlights is his rousing rendition of ' 'The Internet is for Porn', and other politically incorrect songs include 'Everyone's A Little Bit Racist', and 'You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want When You're Makin' Love'!
I particularly loved the Bad Idea Bears, whose squeaky innocent overtures in the ear of the characters to get drunk, spend money, or generally behave badly, were a brilliant comic touch.
The show opened in 2002 and has been in the West End since 2006, now currently on tour. Compared to The Book of Mormon (also created by the same team), the humour can feel a little less 'edgy', but in the hands of the lively, enthusiastic, and versatile young cast, it's a feel-good show with charm and heart, that had the audience cheering in their seats.
Avenue Q has a short run left in Richmond and finishes on Saturday - grab tickets fast as you can. You'll go home smiling.
Suitable for audiences 14 plus.
October 28, 2015