GROWING up is hard to do, especially when you live on Avenue Q.
The characters in Cameron Mackintosh’s lively adaptation of the ever-popular Broadway hit find themselves coming to terms with this difficult post-childhood lesson. Princeton, a young graduate with a BA in English, is fixated with discovering his purpose in life. He dreams of being successful and rich, despite having no experience of the working world. Through the medium of song and dance, he begins the transition from hapless twenty something to charitable entrepreneur. But with darkly comic song titles like The Internet is for Porn and Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist, you could be forgiven for thinking that this musical is likely to be more of a farce than a coming-of-age story.
Yet the show’s writers perform the near impossible task of balancing sarcasm, wit and bawdiness with genuine sentiment, and manage to successfully rework most of the jokes for a British audience. Avenue Q parodies the naiveté of kids TV programmes, most notably Sesame Street, but retains a strong sense of nostalgia for our lost childhoods.
Back in 1999, songwriters Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx composed a score which continues to titillate and inspire 21st century audiences. Their songs will have you singing along- and definitely laughing out loud.
What’s most surprising about this production is the seamlessness with which the actors operate their puppets, to the extent that you almost forget they are even there. Princeton (played by Adam Pettigrew) and Kate Monster (Rachel Jerram) were so lifelike that their rampant bedroom scene was enough to make even a porn star squirm.
By Rachel Blundy