Saturday, 9 August 2014

REVIEW: Avenue Q, on tour around the UK

With hugely successful runs on both sides of the Atlantic, Avenue Q has once again hit the road and is currently touring throughout the UK and Ireland, providing audiences with laugh out loud fun. The Tony award winning show follows the lives of the residents of Avenue Q, a rundown New York suburb populated by an eclectic mix of puppets, people  and monsters. From Brian the unemployed human comedian to Trekkie Monster (who can only be described as Animal from the Muppets with a serious porn addiction). Avenue Q is populated by a collection of  wonderfully unique and humorous characters.  

The shows small cast of just eleven actors do a terrific job bringing the larger than life characters to the stage.  It is clear that the puppetry was given a lot of attention and this attention paid off because watching the puppets it's easy to believe they are real life characters and not just puppets. Some of the more subtle movements of the puppets definitely help to give the puppets a realistic feel as they effectively mimic the movements we make every day. However, Avenue Q isn't exclusively inhabited by puppets, theres also Brian, Christmas Eve and Gary. The way in which the actors who play the streets humans interact with the puppets again adds to the believability of the puppets  giving them a life like quality. 

The lighting and set are quite basic but are both used cleverly. The set in particular is used to transform into a variety of locations in a clever way and even though all the props are brought on stage by actors it is done in a way which works with the show and doesn't interfere with the scenes. Despite being quite a low tech show, the show feels complete and the lack of technology doesn't negatively affect the show in any way. Personally I think this show doesn't need a fancy set with lots of technology because the characters are what make this such a special show. 

One aspect of the show that I was  very impressed by was the versatility of performers, who at times had to switch between characters instantly and they seemed to do so with ease. I was particularly impressed by Stephen Arden who did an amazing job playing the roles of Nikki, Trekkie Monster and Bad Idea Bear. I was amazed at how he was able to produce such a low voice for Trekkie in one scene and in the very next was able to produce such a high voice for Bad Idea Bear. It was great fun to watch his performance. I was also really impressed by Tom Steedon (who played Princeton and Rod) who switched easily between the two characters giving each a unique voice and character. While the puppets really are the stars of the show the humans living on Avenue Q also shone on stage with Richard Morse's (Brian) rendition of "I'm not wearing underwear today" causing the audience to break into a fit of laughter. 

The cast do an amazing job and knock this side splittingly funny show out of the park. This is one of the funniest shows I have seen and is definitely worth watching. I don't usually go to shows more than once, but when you leave with a pain in your stomach from laughing you know it's definitely one to go see again!  I know that I for one will be booking tickets to see the show again when it arrives in Cork later on this year. 

Rating: ★★★★★

Review by Maggie O'Dwyer

Avenue Q is currently touring the UK, this production was reviewed at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin

Cast includes: Stephen Arden, Richard Morse, Jessica Parker, Tom Steedon, Lucie-Mae Sumner, Jaxqueline Tate, Elena Vincent, Greg Airey, Will Hawksworth, Emily-Jane Morris & Wreh-Asha Walton

Photo Credit: Darren Bell 
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