11-13 April 2016
Reviewed by Angela Paull
Last night I went to see Avenue Q at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton. The Mayflower is in the centre of Southampton and surrounded by numerous car parks. I park in Grosvenor Place where there is a flat fee of £2 after 6pm. The theatre has a bright airy foyer complete with a snacks/drinks shop. There are also bars and a restaurant on site and a host of friendly staff members to point you in the right direction if you get lost!
I confess that this is not the first time I’ve seen Avenue Q. It would, in fact, be my third time of watching – a good sign if ever there was one. So would it be as good on the third viewing? Oh yes! This show is unique – a riot of colour, puppets, song and laughs the like of which I’ve never experienced elsewhere.
The show follows the lives and loves of a group of residents on Avenue Q. They are a mixed bunch to say the least, comprising of Monsters, Japanese immigrants, ex-child star Gary Coleman and, of course, our puppet characters.
Between them they tackle some pretty serious issues – gay love, porn, racism amongst them – but it’s all done with a great sense of humour. The song “Everyone’s a little bit racist” somehow seems quite acceptable when sung by puppets!
The puppeteers are quite incredible – dressed in black, so as to be as inconspicuous as possible – they really let the puppets let the story but at the same time portray such emotion in their facial expressions that is like they become as one. All the more impressive when they are all controlling/playing more than one character. Jessica Parker effortlessly morphed from sweet dreamer Kate Monster to voracious sexual predator Lucy the Slut whilst Richard Lowe’s portrayal of Princeton, the graduate continually searching for his “purpose” and Rod, the banker struggling to accept his sexuality, was charming and emotional.
I loved the dynamic between Rod and his flatmate (and crush) Nicky – their relationship totally reminded me of Bert & Ernie on Sesame St. The whole feel of Avenue Q is really an adult version of that children’s classic – including the TVs which show funny childlike cartoons such as the countdown from 5 Night Stands to 1 Night Stand, when Lucy the Slut seduces Princeton.
Make no mistake though, this is definitely not a show for children – unless you want to introduce your little monsters to the joyously funny sight of full on puppet sex!
In essence this is a show where every member of the audience could probably identify with at least one of the characters in some way. It has heart and soul in bucket loads, laughs aplenty and the marvellous Bad News Bears who were ready to cajole and tempt at every turn.
It’s a show that’s beyond categorisation as it has so many elements. The best advice I could give? Go see it! In fact go see it more than once – I’d not hesitate to go back a fourth time. Judging by the enthusiastic applause and cheers of the rest of the audience I’d say it was a hit all round!
I give Avenue Q a resounding 5 out of 5.
Tickets cost from £25.50 to £29.50 (booking fees may apply).
Avenue Q is a the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton until 13 April 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 02380 711811.
Mayflower Theatre, Commercial Road, Southampton, SO15 1GE | 02380 711811