Have you ever wondered what Sesame Street would be like post watershed?
Well no need, Avenue Q is in town for a brief but spectacular run at the Lowry Theatre.
To describe it in its simplest form, this Broadway hit is puppets for grown ups with a talented cast made up of actors turned puppeteers.
Anyone concerned that two and a half hours of ventriloquism might be too much of a stretch for the imagination needn’t be as these puppets are as animated and hilarious as they come. However, just to reassure any cynics, the cast that manoeuvre them act out the same characters along with their puppet counterparts.
Set in a rundown area of New York City, a young graduate called Princeton arrives in Avenue Q looking to embark on the next chapter of his life. He opens the show asking ‘what do you do with a B.A. in English?’
Well unfortunately for English graduates Princeton doesn’t provide us with an answer but rather an intro to Avenue Q where everyone is a bit of a loser – but that’s okay.
This set of run-down Manhattan apartments are home to puppets and humans that are, on the surface, less than average – each struggling against failing careers, dreams and relationships.
Keeping the human touch is Brian, an unemployed caterer, and his Japanese wife Christmas Eve, a newly-qualified therapist without any clients. In the apartment next door lives Rod, a Broadway-loving, Republican puppet working on Wall Street and his laid back best friend, Nicky.
Then there’s Kate Monster, a sweet teaching assistant, proud to be a Monster and hoping one day to open a ‘monster school’. Above her is Trekkie Monster who has little to say unless it’s about porn. And finally, the handyman in the form of has-been Gary Coleman (or rather an actor playing Gary Coleman).
There’s a reason this show has enjoyed almost a decade on Broadway and five years in the West End and it’s not just due to the witty dialogue and brilliant songs but basically because it tells it how it is.
With songs like ‘Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist’, ‘It Sucks To Be Me’ and ‘Internet is for Porn’, Avenue Q puppets seem to have the balls to say what most normal people are often thinking but daren’t say.
The cast must be praised for making credible such an unbelievable notion of puppets and humans living together and for pulling off American accents without any cringe moments.
Avenue Q is the ultimate feel good show – not because of any shiny optimism you often see in musicals but because it breaks down the constant guilt the everyday-person harbours for things like failing careers, telling distasteful jokes and being just a little bit shallow.