City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Avenue Q, Edinburgh Playhouse, Review


By Gordon Clayton - Posted on 08 February 2012

4
Avenue Q
Show Details
Company: 
Theatre Royal Bath
Production: 
Jason Moore (Director), Ken Robertson (Choreography), Nick Finlow (Music Supervisor), Evan Ensign (Staging), Nigel Plaskitt (Puppet coach)
Performers: 
Katherine Moraz (Kate/Lucy), Daniella Gibb, Chris Thatcher, Sam Lupton (various lead roles), Matthew J Henry (Gary), Edward Judge (Brian), Julie Yamanee (Christmas Eve)
Running time: 
150mins

It’s worth crossing the tracks or in New York terms the West River to find Avenue Q all this week at the Playhouse. This is a musical with a difference full of catchy songs and lyrics with a message.

Avenue Q tells the story of the residents of a rundown New York street and their various problems coping with life. Characters include Kate Monster, a teacher; Princeton, an unemployed university graduate; a Sesame Street type Monster, Lucy the Slut, and Ricky and Rod the odd couple.

Most of the performers not only sing and act but operate a puppet, half of a puppet, or for others, two puppets at different times.

The only human characters are Gary Coleman, the building superintendent based on the TV show actor, and couple, comedian Brian and his Japanese fiancée Christmas Eve. All the non-puppeteers Mathew J Henry, Edward Judge and especially Julie Yammanee made a big impression but the puppeteer/actors are simply fantastic considering what they are achieving live on stage.

It is testament to their talent that you watched and listened to the singing heads rather than the performers behind them. Having to concentrate on moving yourself in full view along with the puppet and sing and talk demands great skills so congratulations to all on stage in these roles: Katherine Moraz, Daniella Gibb, Chris Thatcher and Sam Lupton.

The movement between the puppets is very slick which is down to creative choreography and no doubt very hard work. With songs such as It Sucks to be Me, If You Were Gay, Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist and The Internet is for Porn, it is clear that Avenue Q is not for the easily offended, and despite the closeness to mid-term this is certainly not for children.

The lyrics are clever with more than a hint of truthfulness and there was rueful and perhaps heartfelt laughter at What Do You Do with a BA in English from an audience mainly made up of 20-40 year olds. While the humour went down well with most of the audience it was rude to very rude in parts and while the woman next to me was literally rocking with laughter others had difficulty catching all the nuances of the humour The show unlike some recent offerings had quality stamped all over it from the band to the overall sound to the staging, lighting and audio-visuals.

The Empire State Building even plays its part as a meeting place for lovers but with a different outcome from its role in films. The story is simple enough but it’s the interaction between the puppeteers and the actors plus original songs that make this a show worth going to see in what is a short run in Edinburgh.

As word spreads around the pubs and clubs I am sure the box office tills will be busy, but this is a show for adults so leave the kids at home for this one and take them to see the new Muppet film instead.

Show times

Avenue Q runs to Saturday 11th February Tues-Thurs 7.30pm, Wed. matinee 2.30pm, Fri 5.30pm & 8.30pm, Sat 4.30 & 7.30pm

Tags

This musical is very easy to enjoy, and minus the initial shock factor/humour of puppets swearing and vocally assuring us of the exact reason the internet was made, this production is defintely more wit than whimsy.

It effectively deals with the issues of having a post-education crisis of direction and value with a humourous approach that easily engages and reverbs around the audience, made up of many a member trying to match our own illusions with the reality in front of us.

Engaging dialogue, humourous lyrics and a life-lesson that ambiguously doesn't provide any answers... just encourages you not to worry and enjoy the journey of discovery.