I found this production of Avenue Q quite delightful from the moment it started. Yes, it is a kind of Muppet Show for grown ups! Yes, the script is a ridiculous pastiche of farce, satire, childishness and occasional touching- if cliché-insights about the Human Condition. But it works.
Captivating, tuneful and utterly charming, I would say that it succeeds because of the very clever production as much as because of the concept. It also succeeds because of a superb company that are energetic, responsive to each other, and full of talent. They can sing and dance and mime and deliver the most outrageous lines with total sincerity; and many of them are doing it while also skilfully manipulating the puppets!
Everyone says that it is extraordinary how you focus on the puppets and not on the puppeteers; but personally I found myself focusing on both and being particularly impressed by the movement, acting and sheer delight being taken by the human beings on stage– particularly by Tom Steedon, Jessica Parker Lucie-Mae Sumner, though I feel terrible singling anyone out when they are all so good and nimble. Ellena Vincent was great fun as Gary Coleman.
Cleverly directed by Cresside Carré and with a memorable set by Richard Evans, the puppet makers and costumers must be given high praise for their essential contributions. If you liked Spamalot, the Muppet Show or Monty Python, the energy and the style of humour will appeal to you. If not, you may be bored. It is a show to appeal to your inner juvenile. But if you want to give that inner kid an outing, this is a very appealing way to do it.
- Book by Jeff Whitty, based on an original concept by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx
- Directed by Cressida Carré
- Music and Lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx
- Cast includes: Stephen Arden, Jessica Parker, Tom Steedon, Lucie Mae Sumner, Ellena Vincent
- New Theatre, Oxford
- Until 16th August 2014 (On Tour)
- Review by Mel Cooper
- 15th August 2104