Wednesday, 9 October 2019

REVIEW: Avenue Q at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking


Avenue Q is back in Woking, and I have never been happier. It’s the most perverse version of Sesame Street you’ll ever see - puppets in all manner of compromising positions, spewing jokes based on racism, pornography and sex. It’s belly-achingly funny. Written by Robert Lopez (the man who co-wrote music and lyrics The Book of Mormon and Disney’s Frozen) and Jeff Marx, Avenue Q is perhaps their finest work which simply gets funnier as time goes on. 

Princeton, a wide-eyed yellow puppet arrives on Avenue Q, fresh out of college asking the age old question “What DO you do with a BA in English?” and ready to take on the world. With the help of his new neighbours, he quickly realises he’s well out of his depth and has a few things to learn before he can truly discover his “purpose”. On the way, he finds a fuzzy kinda love in Kate Monster. With an Asian-American woman named after a December holiday, a closeted homosexual Republican book-worm and two teddy bears who encourage poor behaviour, this show packs a million punches of world-class humour which relishes on dancing right on the line of “are they allowed to say/do that?!” 

First and foremost, the puppetry in this production is masterful. As we come to expect from this show, there is plenty of multi-roling and character sharing (see the programme where performers are credited as “second arm”), it’s just bloody brilliant. The synchronicity between this cast is striking - no missed beats or lost laughs; it’s just pure fun from start to finish. 

Pint-sized Cecily Redman as Kate Monster/Lucy The Slut (perhaps my all time favourite character name in musical theatre) is a star and shines throughout this piece, with a stunning voice packed with charisma and all the right kinds of attitude. Her counterpart is leading man Lawrence Smith as Princeton/Rod who oozes a Book-of-Mormon-esque tweeness the audience loved. He barely leaves the stage and when he does, it’s to switch puppets. What a feat. 

Yet again though, it is Trekkie Monster who steals this show - played by Tom Steedon. Previously branded by Pocket Size Theatre as the “pervert-cum-hero” (Thank you for that one, Andy Edmeads) of the piece, he wins every laugh imaginable. Steedon also showcases superb vocal ability by not only voicing this bassy, grizzly monster but also one of the much loved Bad Idea Bears with a falsetto speaking voice. A commendable performance across the range. 

The set remains minimal and costume changes are limited to the miniature
pieces worn by the puppets (sometimes, nothing at all!) but the show doesn’t need spectacle because it’s so bloody funny, it speaks for itself.

I’ll be seeing Avenue Q twice in one week thanks to the excellent value tickets at the New Victoria Theatre, and I still don’t know if I’ll be satisfied. I want more more more of those little muppets and don’t doubt if you have even a smidgen of a sense of humour, you’ll feel the same way too!

Unadulterated filthy fun from start to finish. An absolute must-see for anyone who loves to laugh. 

Review by Harriet Langdown 

Rating: ★★★★★

Seat: Stalls, E33 | Price of Ticket: £26.90 
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