Avenue Q – Think Sesame Street muppets turn 18 and have too much spare time on their furry paws. They have work or find jobs to pay the rent while still pursuing their dreams. They exist in a contemporary adult New York and have to contend with all its temptations, pressures and expectations.
Sitting down, way up the back of the Canberra Theatre, I had no prior knowledge of this show nor any real idea what it was about. I was pleasantly surprised by the tip top theatre craftsmanship but disappointed by the crappy content at its heart. I was also so far back that I couldn’t see the screen at the top of the set which was integral to some aspects of the show.
Sadly, while impressed by the individual parts of this production, I found the sum of the whole to be less than satisfactory.
The smarmy self referential humour was lacking in depth or originality, relying mostly on stale stereotypes and the ‘ohh, you can’t say that’ factor. I kept waiting for something really fresh and new to come up, but was disappointed.
For instance, the female characters were either smart girls suitable as girlfriend material or sexy dumb blonde sluts fit only to root. The male characters were goofy yet lovable, the gay character was a total fairy and the black character had rythym! I also found it very hard to suspend my disbelief as the actors sang and danced around the stage while holding up the dismembered half bodies of muppets which were stuck on the end of their arms. The song ‘Everyone’s a little bit racist’ was ridiculous and insulting and the finale celebration of mediocrity in the song ‘For Now’, was banal.
It wasn’t all bad admittedly. Like I said, it was fantastically skilled theatre craftsmanship – the lighting was incredibly accurate and supported the stage action, the actors gave it their all, the sets were very good. And a few songs made me giggle a little, ‘It sucks to be me’, a refrain most people feel at some stage of their lives, and ‘My girlfriend who lives in Canada’ by the puppet Rod (an erstaz Bert from Sesame Street) who is in deep, deep denial about being gay and being terribly attracted to Nicky – the character based on Ernie.
I believe I was in the minority in the audience to feel like this though with everyone around me cacking themselves stupid.
3 stars out of 5.