Theatre: Avenue Q


Music and Lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, book by Jeff Whitty

Directed by Jonathon Biggins

Starring: Mitchell Butell, Michala Banas, Luke Joslin, Cherine Peck, Christina O’Neill, David James and Natalie Alexopoulos.

aveqLadies and Gentlemen, your eyes did not deceive you! Avenue Q, the West End and Broadway phenomenon has landed in Sydney and is waiting to fulfill all your puppet fantasies. Existing somewhere between Sesame Street and The Muppets but with mouths on them like the kids from South Park, this is a musical not for the faint-hearted.  Avenue Q explores the lives of the puppet and human residents of the titular Avenue, whilst constantly reveling in delving into the darker parts of the human condition (racism, homophobia and sexual deviancy) in high energy, sing-a-long song and dance numbers.

The cast of characters are a delicious mix of foul mouths and youthful naivety with barely veiled pop culture references (the Bert and Ernie doppelgangers Rob and Nicky – Rob is struggling with his sexuality and is infatuated with his flatmate, the unaware Nicky). The puppet characters are expertly handled by a talented human cast, with special mention to Mitchell Butell as Princeton/Rod, McLeod’s Daughters alumni Michala Banas as Kate Monster/Lucy T Slut and Luke Joslin as Nicky/Trekkie Monster, who  all seamlessly voice and perform multiple puppet characters on stage at the same time. The human characters (including the building superintendent Gary Coleman) are equally well realised and float seamlessly in and out of the hyper real cartoon world.

The production value in this show is top notch and brings a nice dose of Broadway excess to the Sydney stage. Richard Roberts’ set is well though out and constantly delights in its inventive quirks, allowing the puppet and human performers to peek and poke and pop out from any corner. The same cannot however be said for the venue, with the Theatre Royal really showing its age. It’s a strange choice with the glitz and glamour of Star City seeming the more obvious and playful choice. Instead the drab décor and mausoleum like architecture do all they can to rip all the energy right off the stage.

Luckily, this is the puppets show and with songs such as “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” and “The Internet is for Porn”, you’re not left starring at the furnishings for long, but rolling in the aisles or hiding a smirk from a joke that you really shouldn’t find funny. In the end, Avenue Q is adult’s only entertainment of the highest quality- crude, rude and always willing to poke fun not only at its audience but also at itself.  As Trekkie Monster would say- ‘Grab your dick and double click on AVENUE Q!’

You will love this if: you were turned on by the puppet sex scene in Team America, even a little bit.

You will hate this if: you need everything to be 100% politically correct.

Avenue Q is playing at the Theatre Royal (MLC Centre, 108 King St, Sydney) until September 13.

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