Set in a fictional outer borough of New York City and populated by a mix of puppets, operated by visible onstage puppeteers, and real people, operated by themselves, the show is an adult take on very adult issues (racism, financial woes, internet pornography) yet packaged and performed like an episode of the celebrated children’s TV show Sesame Street.
On the avenue lives Kate Monster, a well-meaning teaching assistant who works for the cantankerous Mrs Thistletwat; Rod, a closeted Republican homosexual, with his strictly platonic roommate Nicky; humans Brian and his Asian-American wife, Christmas Eve; the local pervert, Trekkie Monster (a combination of Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch); the building superintendent, Gary Coleman (yes, that Gary Coleman); and the latest addition to the street, Princeton, who just graduated college with a BA in English and has his sights set on finding his purpose in life and living happily ever after in the big city.
Things don’t turn out as planned for foam-headed Princeton. He faces unemployment; the trials of love and lust, embodied by the voluptuous puppet, Lucy the Slut (an extreme version of Miss Piggy in her most lascivious moments); and, most hilariously, the temptations offered by the Bad Idea Bears, two sprites in puppet form who appear at intervals, distracting Princeton from his quest to find his life’s purpose by encouraging his more self-destructive urges. Performed in the style of Elmo, this couple of furry friends go down a storm with audiences.
Avenue Q is a comedy musical that works on the principles that puppets are funnier than real people and that puppets have a licence to do and say things which people cannot, bound as they are by the restraints of political correctness. Based on these two principles, the show is a success and the slightly forgettable melodies and small-scale production values are easily forgiven.
Running for one week only, don’t miss your chance to see two naked puppets perform a range of sexual acts onstage before your very eyes.
Avenue Q runs until August 9 at Bord Gais Energy Theatre.
Get tickets here.
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