Empire Theatre, Liverpool
June 11 – June 16
Author: Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx, Jeff Whitty
Director: Jason Moore
Producer: Theatre Royal Bath Promotions
Cast: Katharine Moraz, Sam Lupton, Chris Thatcher, Jules Yammanee, Luke Striffler,
Matthew J Henry, Edward Judge
Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins
When Cameron Mackintosh brought the Broadway hit Avenue Q to the West End in 2006, he built it into a solid hit that continuously defied expectations. After all, how could a show that centres around puppets, whose operators can be seen throughout, possibly succeed?
Well, succeed it does – partly because of the fact the actors operating Lucy the Slut, Princeton, Kate Monster, Rod, Trekkie Monster et al are so attuned with their charges that they, too, affect their mannerisms and so give a depth to each character that might otherwise be missing.
There’s also the fact that Avenue Q is bloody funny .... and irreverent ... to the point where in fact that its “shock value” can be considered to be on a par with a diluted Jerry Springer: The Opera. Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist steals the plaudits, but it is closely followed by The Internet Is For Porn, It Sucks To Be Me, You Can Be As Loud As The Hell You Want (When You’re Making Love) and If You Were Gay all of which are performed with consummate skill by a highly talented cast.
Of the puppeteers, Katharine Moraz heads the list, switching between her own Kate Monster and an opposing Lucy the Slut with seamless ease that almost etches out the fact that the puppets are actually puppets at all. Then there is Luke Striffler who stands in to perform brilliantly with the perverted Trekkie Monster and the more timid Nicky. Sam Lupton, too, underlines the energy of all the performers with Princeton and the closeted Gay, Rod, with great understatement.
Of those playing human characters, Julie Yammanee as Asian-American Christmas is quite simply mesmerising and nails stereotyping to a tree and dances around it with hilarity and joy.
The First Act flies, whereas the second Act slows a little but not to the extent where the laugh out loud moments do not come from out of the blue and Avenue Q, quite simply, is 1 hour and 40 minutes of fun, fun, fun from beginning to end ... just don’t take the kids.