Matt Yeomana brilliant production
Staging a production of a very modern much-loved production such as Avenue Q is a very brave thing to do, especially as its target audience is the next generation of theatre goers – as the producers themselves comment, ‘If we don’t bring the Facebook generation into the theatre, we’ll soon be out of a job’. Judging by the response and make-up of the audience, they have been very successful with this production. The show evidently lives up to this ethos with the some incredibly well-rehearsed one-liners that leave the audience wondering whether the stars of the show are the puppeteers or the puppets themselves.
Based on a typical street in suburban New York, the show follows the lives of a group of characters (human and puppets alike) as they struggle to survive in the modern world. With virtually every contemporary social issue explored through song and dance, the show is certainly aimed at the next, younger generation, realised with some a very talented young cast.
Not only were the actors “performers” in their own rights, but they had the responsibility of transferring their skills to the puppets they controlled, thus bringing them to life. The leads of the show were truly masterful at this, and brought the puppets into the real world making the audience believe they were watching a rather brilliant, if not crude version of Sesame Street. Tom Steedon and Stephen Arden’s puppetry skills were excellent, and really brought the characters of Princeton, Rod, Nicky and Trekkie Monster to life. Their singing and vocal skills reached the high calibre of talent the show requires to be successful, but even they were dwarfed by the incredibly vocal and puppetry talents of Lucie-Mae Sumner who undoubtedly led the ensemble with incredible talent and prowess with Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut. Sumner’s ability to change her voice for the different characters she portrayed was excellent and was best illustrated during the duologue between her two puppets – which left the audience marvelling at the mastery of her art.
This was truly a piece of theatre that relies heavily on teamwork to make the show work. Without the support of the ensemble cast, the quick interchange of puppets/and puppeteers would not have worked and the comedy produced as a result of this would have failed. The set designed by Richard Evans allowed for the brilliant telling of this story with doors and windows – all used to frame the action (the blinds that hide the inappropriate actions of Trekkie Monster added to the characters entrance and exit brilliantly!)
The music and songs of the show are, of course, very rude and don’t just brush over topics that most of the audience would never discuss in public, they full on expose these social indiscretions to create embarrassment and hilarity! ‘The Internet Is For Porn’ has to be a classic musical song of the modern era and had the audience in tears.
For anybody who loved Sesame Street and who can imagine it mixed up in the 21st Century culture we live in, this show is the one to see. For those who are easily offended, perhaps a trip down a different avenue would be more to their liking. Overall, Avenue Q is a brilliant production, well worth a watch.