REVIEW: The Co-Creators of the Book of Mormon and Southpark bring us ‘Avenue Q’

Avenue Q- An evening of slightly inappropriate humour.

Created by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez, Avenue Q is the musical that will leave you tapping your foot and singing inappropriate lyrics on the night bus home.  A complete hit right from the very first curse word, the production is yet to disappoint any theater-goer that enjoys a politically incorrect laugh at someone else’s expense. Set amongst the New York city backdrop, this two hour and ten minute showstopper will lift the smile of even the most dry and cynical.

It is the story of Princeton, a recent 23-year-old English graduate who arrives at Avenue Q looking for purpose in his life. He falls in love with Lucy, a monster whose one ambition is to open a school for little monster children. Lucy is an innocent romantic. She sings lovingly to the audience about falling for Princeton and her heartache when he leaves her for a crude and slutty puppet. The most risqué moment of the whole performance is the sex scene between Princeton and Lucy. Yes that’s right, puppets can have sex and in such alarming detail considering they have no lower body halves. What more would we expect from Marx and Lopez, the co-creators of the Book of Mormon and Southpark. 

Of course Princeton eventually sees that Lucy is the one giving his life any meaning and helps raise the money for her to open her own school. It’s all very convenient and thoughtful. The other catchy song Avenue Q is most famous for is the one sung by the Trekkie Monster, ‘the internet is for porn’. Nothing will leave an audience grabbing their sides with hysteria than an upbeat jazz-hands number about pornography. Note: Avenue Q is not suitable for persons under 14 years of age.

Princeton is met with a catalogue of kooky and unhinged characters during his stay that often lead to hilarious songs and dance routines. There are Rod and Nicky, a couple which live next door. Rod is a tightlipped republican struggling to come to terms with his closeted homosexuality. Nicky is there to remind him in perhaps one of Avenue Q’s most catchy numbers that ‘if you were gay, that would be okay.’ We later come to realize that Rod is in love with Nicky if only he was able to accept his own sexuality. Rod then kicks Nicky out of their home because he overheard him mocking him. Nicky is left homeless and begging on the New York streets. But don’t worry; this musical really isn’t as serious as it sounds.

Amongst all the puppets are three real people performing with them. Christmas Eve, a Japanese woman with a thick faux accent and her lackluster husband, Brian. Cue the song ‘Everyone’s a little bit racist’ just to ease the tension.  They live next to Princeton and act as catalysts for the puppet’s narrative. Strangely the third human character is Gary Coleman. Not the real man, obviously but a woman in denim overalls pretending to be the superintendent. Consequently, a lot of Gary Coleman’s lines are tinged with a double layer of meaning since the recent sex allegations came out about him. This does lead to more laughs, luckily for the production team.

The overall show is studded frequently with songs. It verges on being a puppet opera, not that that’s a bad thing. It is as cheeky and cheesy as puppet musicals get. But as a viewer you want to disappear just for an evening, into their felt world. They are operated with precision by the company, of which there are about ten occupants. At times one woman will voice two puppets and throw her voice across the stage. This takes a lot of rehearsal and time, something Avenue Q has clearly had a lot of.

Olivia Topley