Review: Avenue Q At The Regent Theatre, Stoke on Trent

Director: Cressida Caré

Musical Director: Dean McDermott

Music & Lyrics: Robert Lopez & Jeff Marx

Book: Jeff Whitty

A bunch of puppets, a handful of talented actors, a basic set and some very adult content. Put it all together and you get Avenue Q. This newly remounted tour of the Broadway hit will certainly have you rolling around in laughter. Set in the dingy suburbs of New York it tells the tale of a bunch of Humans, Puppets and Monsters on a quest to find out the meaning of life and how to make the most out of it.

The charm of this production lies solely on the Actors on stage and their energy and ability as puppeteers. The focus may be on the puppet characters but to bring these fuzzballs to life each puppeteer has to effortlessly make their puppet and body move as one, with each moment, move and gesture choreographed to be mirrored. This works impressively well and at times you do almost get lured into believing these puppets could almost be real people. Special mention has to go to Stephen Arden for doing this for three characters. However, each cast member manages to do this with ease with each character they bring to life.

The book itself by Jeff Whitty is fairly basic and may seem a bit sporadic at times especially during Act One when it is almost song after song. All in all it seems to work together as one crazy piece leading to the conclusive ending that leads the audience leaving with a smile on their face. The storytelling used throughout is aided by Richard Evan’s multi use set windows that double up as the interior of the puppets’ homes and is great for those audience members who need a bit of visual stimulus to get engaged with this puppet world

The lyrics and songs add to this well-written comedy. With titles such as The Internet is for Porn and Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist it’s not something to watch for the easily offended and were included to make the audience laugh. However, behind each song, there are very human emotions and feelings which led to some fairly awkward laughs and smiles at times.

Within all of the fun and frolics, there are some elements of intimacy that allow you to think and reflect and are welcome rest bites from the comedy. Let’s certainly not beat around the bush, this production at times nearly crosses the line with its satire but there is something very innocent about the often potentially offensive jokes and themes when they are delivered through characters that are so lovable and furry. This idea is cleverly exemplified with the characters of the Bad Idea Bears who pop up at moments throughout the show.

This production may not be for everyone and certainly isn’t for those easily offended. However, if what you’re looking for is a feel-good comedy musical Avenue Q certainly is something for you to watch and enjoy. A comedy with heart, fun, light-hearted comedy and quite possibly the only chance you’ll have to see puppet porn come to life straight in front of your eyes!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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