Mark Shenton (The Stage)...impossible not to fall in love with.
When Avenue Q first burst upon New York in 2003, it followed Rent from seven years earlier to offer a vivid, vital expression of youthful concerns among those living in the East Village’s then down-at-heel Alphabet City. But where Rent was angst-driven, Avenue Q took a more satirical comic approach. Now, a decade on, it remains as fresh and fun as ever - the only problem is that I’m not.
If ever a show was designed to make you feel your age, either for the good or bad, it is Avenue Q. For the generation it was written for, it’s a joyful, truthful account of post-college anxieties about finding your purpose in life and romance, filtered hilariously through the hand-manipulated puppets that form most of its cast. For the rest of us, it is a gently reflective piece about a journey we’ve already been on, but also brought hilariously up-to-date with reflections on racism, internet porn and living in the moment.
The spirit of The Muppets meets the subversive wit of Spitting Image in this hip, happening adult puppet musical with a difference. In a musical landscape that has become stale with an endless cycle of compilation shows, it remains a fresh breath of original air.
Cressida Carre’s new touring production is mostly a facsimile of the original staging, but none the worse for it. It if ain’t broke, why fix it? Her youthful company brings real spirit and attack to it, with stand-out performances from Lucie-Mae Sumner as Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut and Tom Steedon, also doubling nicely as Princeton and Rod. Their seamless puppetry and singing is a joy.
This is a show and a company that it is impossible not to fall in love with.