Originating in America as a rejected concept for a TV programme that became an Off-Broadway musical and moved to Broadway within four months, Avenue Q is the story of two young people who fall in love and their quirky neighbours. Sounds pretty standard, doesn’t it. Well it would be if the majority of the characters weren’t puppets
Described by many as “Sesame Street on acid”, Avenue Q takes the broad tropes of Sesame Street and similar productions and proceeds to affectionately rip them to shreds with the puppet characters getting drunk on absinthe cocktails, having one-night-stands (Before you ask, yes you do see the sex), and contemplating suicide among other things
The show came to the West End in 2006 after several Tony Awards and massive critical acclaim in the US and ran regularly until October 2010 when it left the West End and began to tour annually. Sadly there’s not yet any word on whether the show will be touring in 2013 but until the opportunity arises to go see it, here are five reasons why you should…
5. The Concept Is Almost Unique
Despite the fact that (as film critic Mark Kermode rather irritably pointed out on Newsnight several years ago) the idea of puppets acting in an adult way has been done as early as 1989 with Peter Jackson’s Meet The Feebles, it still remains a novel and inventive concept. Particularly since Avenue Q takes the core of that premise and really twists into something much more inventive.
Basically, Avenue Q is Sesame Street with a hefty dose of real life added to it. It takes Sesame Street’s much loved but untrue message of ‘you’re special and can do anything you can put your mind to’ and brings it crashing down to Earth with the characters facing real dilemmas and struggling to find their place in society.
It’s not just taking puppets and trying to make them as rude as possible, it’s putting puppets in real situations. The opening theme conveys this brilliantly and really sets the tone right from the first line with the lyrics “The sun is shining, it’s a lovely day. The perfect morning for a kid to play. But you’ve got lots of bills to pay”. In those few words, we immediately know what we’re in for. Taking puppets and making them face the harsh realities of life in our stead. It’s that which sets Avenue Q apart from the Team Americas and the Meet The Feebles of the world and helps to make it something completely new.
This article was first posted on February 26, 2013