Tony Award winning musical, ‘Avenue Q’, has descended onto the Irish stage – and is teaching audiences some of the hardest lessons in life. Like ‘what can you do with a BA in English’, ‘what the internet is really for’, and ‘how to find your purpose in life’.
Packed with raunchy sex scenes, offensive jokes, and a cameo from Gary Coleman; this puppet show is definitely not for the faint of heart.
The show follows a group of friends who live in the sketchy New York neighbourhood of Avenue Q. From the bright-eyed college graduate, Princeton (puppeteered by Lawrence Smith), who falls for aspiring teacher, Kate Monster (puppeteered by Cecily Redman), to the failed comedian, Brian (Oliver Stanley), who is constantly at loggerheads with his immigrant wife, Christmas Eve (Saori Oda), to the fed-up-with-things-all-together landlord, Gary Coleman, yes that’s former childhood star Gary Coleman (Nicholas McClean); each of the group set out to find out their life’s purpose.
Having been inspired by shows like ‘The Muppets’ and ‘Seasme Street’, the production was devised as a puppet show for adults. Had this show been performed by actual human actors, it would have run the risk of being too offensive, tactless, and bleak. However nothing ever feels too risque when performed by an adorable, brightly coloured puppet (designed by Paul Jomain).
Despite the show’s hilarious script, there are some genuinely fascinating commentary on issues that plague modern society. One particular song looks at how all of us harbor unconscious bias against people of a different race, whilst another looks at the denial one may go through when coming to terms with one’s homosexuality.
Through genius song lyrics, the show manages to condense complex and topical issues into cute little songs that even a small toddler could understand (though on that note, this is a show that you absolutely shouldn’t take a small toddler to see!). All in all, the production represents the fear that all adults harbor when facing the world; including the feeling of inadequacy, the stress over paying bills, and the fears that your life may not have a purpose.
The cast work incredibly, maneuvering between using the various puppets, and despite being visible on stage the entire time, never pull focus away from their colourful friends.
With smashing performances including ‘If You Were Gay’, ‘Everyone’s A LIttle Bit Racist’, and ‘There’s a Fine Fine Line’, ‘Avenue Q’ has something to offer for everyone.
Review by Kevin Worrall
Don’t miss Avenue Q at the Gaiety Theatre, running until May 18th. See here for details.