Avenue Q

All theatre requires some degree of “suspension of disbelief”. Avenue Q’s biggest “ask” of audiences isn’t just to accept that a majority of the show’s characters are puppets; it’s that these puppets’ operators are clearly visible beside them on stage.

It helps, of course, that Avenue Q provides a really solid foundation on which to base any musical: a witty, acerbic and – above all – intelligent script, fused with a quality score and catchy songs by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez

It helps, of course, that Avenue Q provides a really solid foundation on which to base any musical: a witty, acerbic and – above all – intelligent script, fused with a quality score and catchy songs by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez – the man responsible for the vocal heart of Disney’s Frozen, and co-creator of The Book of Mormon. This second UK national tour by Sell a Door – directed and choreographed by Cressida Carré – is also well served by a great ensemble cast.

Nevertheless there are several stand-out performances from Richard Lowe, Stephen Arden and Sarah Harlington, who between them carry off with real aplomb the show’s “tradition” of each performing two or more quite distinct characters. In Harlington’s case, she easily switches from the nasal tones of shy teaching assistant Kate Monster to the husky promise of the all-too-literally named Lucy the Slut; Lowe, meantime, hits exactly the right tones for naive young graduate Princeton and repressed gay Republican banker Rod; Arden’s strong voice covers not just Rod’s room mate Nicky, but also the porn-mad Trekkie Monster, and one of the chaotic Bad Idea Bears which cause so much trouble during the show. This cast’s clear talent, energy and enthusiasm are not without an obvious danger, though; given that they mirror the puppets’ expressions and movements, it’s all to easy to start watching the actors rather than the puppet characters that we’re suppose to be keeping our eyes on.

Perhaps if the puppets were larger, this might not be quite such a problem; but this does feel like a show that needs to be physically bigger in some respects to fill a venue even on the scale of Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre. For example, the Sesame Street-styled graphics are uncomplicated enough, but the two screens on which they’re seen, hanging from above the stage, nevertheless feel somewhat small in proportion to the rest of the set, especially when you’re at the back of the Circle.

The whole show is, of course, heavily influenced by iconic American educational children’s TV show Sesame Street; Marx and Lopez undoubtedly extract real musical theatre gold from its sweetly positive view of the world, as well as utilising its trademark interweaving of puppets, real people and actors as pretend characters. Yet, I still wonder just how much of this genuinely resonates with British audiences, especially those generations for whom Sesame Street wasn’t a regular aspect of their television viewing as children. Perhaps it’s time for a properly grown-up British musical inspired by Camberwick Green and Trumpton?

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Royal Lyceum Theatre

Mrs Puntila And Her Man Matti

★★
Traverse Theatre

W*nk Buddies

★★★
Traverse Theatre

Pride Plays

★★★★
Multiple Venues

Oor Wullie

★★★★
Oran Mor / Traverse Theatre

Fly Me To The Moon

★★★★
Platform / Traverse Theatre

The Panopticon

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Winner of the TONY “Triple Crown” for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book, Avenue Q is part flesh, part felt and packed with heart.

Created by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez (Co-creator of Book of Mormon) Avenue Q is an irresistibly charming musical which tells the story of the loveable characters on a downtown New York street trying to make sense of life’s burning issues.

Hilarious, cheeky and uproariously entertaining, with a terrific batch of songs performed by a cast of hugely talented performers and puppets, Avenue Q is the musical like no other.

Most Popular See More

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £31.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Hairspray

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets