Theatre review: Avenue Q

The cast of Avenue Q
The cast of Avenue Q
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Today’S review is brought to you by the letters A, C, E, and the number 5. If you get the reference, then you’ll also understand why Avenue Q is an adult extension of Sesame Street.

* * * * *

KING’S THEATRE

Ten years on since its Broadway beginnings, the production’s themes of racism, sexuality and religion (to name but a few) haven’t dated much, and that’s probably because human nature hasn’t altered all that radically in the last decade, either.

For here, in this grubby little New York borough, the residents like to remind you that The Internet Is For Porn, Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist, and If You Were Gay, well, That’d Be OK, too. Of course, controversial topics are always more palatable when they’re sung by a bunch of bug-eyed, garishly coloured puppets. But, as the show reminds us, there are elements of truth in most stereotypes.

Following Princeton – a 23-year-old who quickly discovers the world can be a cruel place for someone who has just graduated with a BA in English – who takes up residence in Avenue Q, whereby he meets the friendly (and not so friendly) members of the neighbourhood. Uncertain of his purpose in life, Princeton’s journey of discovery is dominated by his relationship with Kindergarten teacher assistant Kate Monster.

Directed by Cressida Carré, it’s difficult to pinpoint where she’s made this any different to the original West End production. Having seen the original, and last year’s Fringe offering, this is a carbon copy. No matter, people still laugh in all the right places, the ramshackle studio set still feels like a scene from Sesame Street, and it still takes a pop at just about everyone and everything (bar Muslims).

Despite being right alongside the puppets, you rarely notice the puppeteers. And that’s testament to those whose hands are up their backsides. A notable exception, however: Lucie-Mae Sumner: a woman with such talented dexterity, she could throw her voice all the way to the Leith Docks and back.

The verdict, then? You’d be a muppet to miss it.

Run ends Saturday.