*I attended this showing of Avenue Q at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre with a press ticket.
Finding your purpose in life seems to be something everyone worries about, especially us twenty-somethings trying to make an impact to the world in only the most positive ways, but then throw a BA in English, relationship struggles, sexual and social issues on top of that and well, you’ve got yourself Avenue Q. This is an impressively tiny production with a big heart and great sense of humour, and if watching puppets have sex and get drunk is your kinda thing, then hop on board the crazy train that is this hilarious theatre performance.
I thought that I had never actually heard of Avenue Q before and when I saw the press release and images I thought to myself, “Oh how cute, it’s a puppet show.” I was expecting something a bit more childish and panto-esque with this show and what I got was Sesame Street for adults – it kind of felt a bit like if Family Guy had puppets and was slightly more self aware. It works seriously well and it’s got a great crowd.
I first realised that I had heard of Avenue Q when Kate Monster, one of the leading characters in the production, gets offered to cover a class at the school she works at when her boss needs a heart transplant and needs the morning (yup, just the morning) off to recover. She begins contemplating what she’ll teach her class and decides to settle on the internet. She starts to sing about how great the internet is – and then a character that appears slightly less in the production, Trekkie Monster, pipes in with “FOR PORN.” – yep, some of you may have heard this song before, some of you may not have, but The Internet Is For Porn is the lightbulb that made me say Oh I know what this production is after all!
It’s a totally hilarious segment in the show as well with everyone eventually getting involved admitting that they love the internet for its use of porn, nobody denies the fact that they’re avid porn viewers and instead sing along with Trekkie Monster in positive delight. It’s hilarious and it pretty much sums up the entire production: everyone is so self aware singing about everything wrong with the world that makes the world so right.
Throughout the show the puppets are being held by their purposely visible puppeteers, who even switch which character they’re performing as several times throughout the show, they act along with the puppet, following the body movement and facial expressions you’d expect the puppet to be creating on their own, the show doesn’t try to trick you into believing the puppets are for real, it’s completely honest about it’s whacky choices and use of puppets.
This is a production that is incredibly self aware and it works so well. There’s nothing fancy or crazy about this show which is what makes it so down to earth and humble, the set doesn’t change, not even once, there’s no revolving scenes or treehouses being built, the entire show takes places outside of the apartments on Avenue Q – even a wedding and hospital scene but you pay no mind to it because the story carries itself so well that you can believe what is happening, it makes no attempts at blowing you away with visuals and sets, the show simply aims to be relatable and make you laugh, which it does, throughout the entire duration of the production.
I was completely surprised and blown away by Avenue Q, it’s a standout show for its simplicity and humbleness, the sense of humour may not be for everybody but it certainly was for me, everyone inside of the audience was belly-laughing along together for two hours and it’s just what you need when you come to the theatre. I left feeling totally shocked at what I’d just seen, and I’d like to see it again.