Avenue Q

August 16, 2022 | By More

★★★★☆     Organised chaos

Hill Street Theatre (Venue 41): Fri 5 – Sun 28 Aug 2022
Review By Greg Holstead

If you are not familiar with Avenue Q, being staged by Edinburgh Little Theatre at Hill Street, a Q virgin as it were, be prepared to be surprised and very amused by Muppet-like hand puppets swearing, acting inappropriately and addressing adult issues head on.

The musical follows unemployed Eng Lit Grad Princeton as he takes up residence in Avenue Q. Princeton and the majority of characters portrayed by hand puppets with various aims in life; a monster school for primary teacher Kate Monster, a male partner for Rod, sexual gratification for Lucy The Slut, porn for trekkie and ‘a purpose’ for Princeton.

Avenue Q

It is hard to believe that this puppetfest cult musical, is 19 years old, it feels fresh, edgy and still, always, ready to offend. But also ready to incite extreme fits of laughter and joy, and possibly love – love for those characterful little puppets.

Special mention should go to rubber-faced Rae Crone as one of the humans: Gary Coleman (a late stand-in – wrong colour and wrong sex as director Derek Douglas explains before the start – with a shrug), the super-sub absolutely slays it, without a book.

When Crone makes a mistake half way through the first half she simply shrugs and laughs – the crowd howl with her. This is a show full of shrugs and laughs. It is an unbreakable laughter machine. Come the end of the show Crone gets the biggest cheer of the night – totally deserved.

A wall-breaking and convention-breaking unique show, the use of hand puppets seems to free the performers from all self-consciousness; the whole cast literally thrown themselves into this with energy, joy and no small amount of raw talent.

a West End-ready voice

Chief puppeteer Shannon Daly shines with a West End-ready voice as Kate Monster, but why would she ever want to inhabit that neighbourhood when she lives so perfectly in Avenue Q? Another stand out is Kristen Weichen Wong as human, Christmas Eve, with her wonderfully perky movement and script delivery.

Many of the cast from the 2019 sell-out run are back and raring to go to tell the story of Princeton and Kate Monster’s on-off relationship, and along the way also try to figure out the purpose of life. And the songs come thick and fast, Everyone’s a little bit racist, Fine fine line, If you were gay, Girlfriend who lives in Canada.

The smile has likely not left the face of Director Derek Douglas since he realised his was the only Avenue Q in the borough this year. As he whips the large crowd, to foot stamping and cheering, a boxing promoter in the sweatpit of his steeply raked 100-seater theatre at the start of the show he is still smiling.

Written before #metoo, before snowflakes, Woke, BLM or Karens, this anarchic and decisively non-PC theatre-filler is probably on borrowed time. You may have to Q for this but whatever you do, don’t miss it!

Running time: One hour and 40 minutes (including one interval)
Hill Street Theatre (Alba Stage), 19 Hill Street, EH2 3JP (Venue 41)
Friday 5 – Sunday 28 August 2022
Daily: 20:10
Tickets and details: Book here.

Edinburgh Little Theatre website: https://edinburghlittletheatre.com/
Facebook: @Edinburghlittletheatre
Twitter: @edlittletheatre

ENDS

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