Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bina007 makes a wrong turn on the way to the cinema and ends up in AVENUE Q

Do you think the only way to count to twelve is in the style of the Pointer Sisters with Maceo Parker jamming in the back-ground?

Do you think that what might be right for you may not be right for some?

Do you spend hours in the pub discussing the latest homosexuality of Bert and Ernie?

Did you spend the first few years after graduating college feeling disillusioned, under-paid and losing hope?

Do you think that, while blogging and Amazon are handy, the internet is basically just for porn?

If so, AVENUE Q is the Broadway-musical for you. It's a musical in the style of Sesame Street, with humans and muppets hanging out in the seedier parts of New York dealing with real life issues. The big difference is that while Sesame Street is a childrens' TV show, AVENUE Q is most definitely an adult musical. It focuses on a bunch twenty-somethings dealing with love, sexuality, unemployment and even homelessness in a breathtakingly honest and incredibly funny way. The song-titles alone should give you a hint: What Do You Do with a B.A. in English? - It Sucks to Be Me - If You Were Gay - Everyone's a Little Bit Racist - The Internet Is for Porn. Think Tom Lehrer crossed with South Park but performed by Cookie Monster.

But a musical does not become a hit on the strength of a gimmick. AVENUE Q is a quality product. Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx have penned catchy songs with perceptive, funny lyrics that resonate with all of us who've been through that post-college downer. There's a proper story and while it follows the formula it does occasionally wrong-foot you.

Moreover, despite the fact that half the characters are muppets I felt completely emotionally engaged, and was genuinely upset when the closet homosexual Rod realised that his friend Nicky wasn't in love with him. Perhaps this is because the writers have consciously played on all our scurrilous imaginings about the inner life of the Sesame Street characters. Rod is convincing as a closet homosexual because we always viewed Burt as gay.

The performers are also incredibly talented - matching there facial expressions to those of the muppets, making the muppet torsos almost an extension of their own bodies, and being careful to have the muppets address each other rather than the muppeteers. They all have strong singing voices and deliver the lines with the requisite pathos or humour. The best thing of all is that the muppets are absolutely necessary. In other words, it isn't just a gimmick. There are certain scenes which simply wouldn't work - or wouldn't be shown - if they weren't using muppets.

So, I can thoroughly recommend a night out at AVENUE Q for those of you with a broad-mind and a love of 70s pop culture. Liz and I laughed throughout and left the theatre feeling immensely cheered up despite the fact that we'd just had some gruesome news. If it could make us feel that good in such a context, it must be a winner.

AVENUE Q is currently playing in the Noel Coward theatre in London.

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