Avenue Q (UK Tour), Palace Theatre Manchester | Review

October 21, 2019
Avenue Q
Palace Theatre Manchester
Reviewed by Mia Goddard
Princeton, a bright-eyed graduate, comes to New York City with hopes of finding his ‘Purpose’. Soon discovering that the only neighbourhood in his price range is Avenue Q, he finds himself moving in alongside some quirky characters.

I’ve never heard much about Avenue Q and only knew a couple of songs, so I wasn’t really sure what to except walking in to the theatre, although I’ve been warned beforehand that this show is not suitable for young children. This show immediately starts of with comedy and I really enjoyed the competitively miserable song, “It Sucks to be Me” and ‘got’ the cheery rendition of, “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” despite its dark undertone. However, once Trekkie Monster’s hilarious musical insistence that, “The Internet Is for Porn” and Kate Monster and Princeton get very publicly down and dirty,, I realised that this show really isn’t for young people at all and is aimed at a much older audience.

Apart from their black attire, no attempt is made to hide the puppeteers. They stand beside their puppets with expressive human faces and move their mouths clearly in view.  Sometimes two people are required to operate one puppet and other times one person provides the dialogue for two puppets within the same conversation, which was very impressive. Cecily Redman is extremely good at this when voicing both sides of conversations between Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut, completely changing the mood and tone as she alternates between the characters. She’s so talented with her facial expressions and singing voice. Lawrence Smith also switches between leads Princeton and Rod, giving an extremely strong vocal performance and Tom Steedon goes a step further, offering up his range for the roles of Nicky, Trekkie Monster and one of the Bad Idea bears.

There are several more poignant moments in the show as the downside of relationships is explored, notably by Redman as Kate Monster in the lovely ballad ‘There’s A Fine, Fine Line’, which was the highlight of the show for me.

The set was very effective, showing the apartments and detailed models of the interiors so it was always clear where the action was taking place. There was a clever use of coloured lights also added to the impact and reinforced the parody of Sesame Street. The New York skyline in the background was a nice touch too.

This show is completely different to anything I’ve seen before. I don’t often find myself laughing out loud at the theatre, but Avenue Q is one of those shows. With themes like racism, homosexuality and pornography, the line is crossed so often that it’s hard to remember where it was meant to be to start with.

Avenue Q is a riot of irreverent fun and will have you howling with laughter.

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