Avenue Q at The Palace Theatre
OK, time to confess. My name is Chris Park and I spent my Tuesday night laughing at puppets having sex. There I said it. Despite this rather blatant attempt to grab your attention, I have to say that the puppet-tastic Avenue Q is an incredibly clever way to highlight the problems that young people face when coming into the adult world.
The action features around an American street where puppets and adults live side by side (noticing any similarities here?) but are struggling to cope with the pressures inflicted on them by careers, peer pressure and the ever present Bad Idea Bears (more of this later).
What is really clever is that the puppeteers are in full view of the audience. At first I thought I would find this distracting from the storyline but before long I came to accept them which proves the theory that, providing it is executed well enough,, an audience can learn to live with most things.
The show opens with Princeton, a recent graduate who has moved to the area for his new dream job which promptly dumps him. We follow his adventures as he falls for Kate Monster however Lucy The Slut has other ideas. We also see the “will he won’t he” coming out of Rod who shares a bedroom with his roommate Nicky all presided over by the porn obsessed Trekkie Monster and human characters Christmas Eve, Brian and building supervisor, Gary Coleman (yes that’s right).
The show establishes the characters brilliantly with songs such as “If You Were Gay”, “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” and “The Internet Is For Porn”. OK so you’re getting the picture now? This is not for the faint hearted.
The characters that really stole the show for me (which is probably a bad reflection on me) were the Bad Idea Bears, these are two impossibly cute creations who gambol onto the stage and suggest beer, Long Island Ice Teas or more sinister pursuits. We’ve all fallen prey to these naughty bears, some of us more than others, but the outcome of their tricks generally land our heroes in seriously hot water or seriously hot bed action.
This was a show that I went to with hardly any expectations and was really pleasantly surprised. The puppet work is exceptional but the script doesn’t just rely on this gimmick and gives us well rounded characters that we can all identify with as well as the perfect excuse for subsequent bad behaviour, after all it wasn’t me, it was the Bad Idea Bears!
By Chris Park for Canal St Online