Avenue Q

Aug 5 2014 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩  Shooting for the stars

Paradise in Augustines (Venue 152)​ Sat 2 – Sun 10 August 2014

Remember when you were young and they said you were special? That you could do anything you wanted if you just believed? Well, they lied.

Lucy the Slut (Rebecca Simmonds) and Princeton (Scott Meenan). Photo: Eusog

Lucy the Slut (Rebecca Simmonds) and Princeton (Scott Meenan). Photo: Eusog

Avenue Q is a coming of age tale that exposes these lies. Focusing on a group of 20 year olds, who are trying to make their way in the world and find their purpose in life, it explores the anxieties associated with growing up and making it on your own. It’s hard-hitting, it’s shocking, and ultimately it’s painfully accurate. You are no more special than anyone else. It sucks to be you.

But hang on, Avenue Q isn’t actually about the doom and gloom. What the show teaches is that we’re all in it together, and camaraderie will see you through! Besides, how could it be sad with a stage full of adorable puppets? The cast consists of both human characters and Sesame Street-style puppet characters who interact as if human.

In fact, that is the genius of the show. It’s the ironic juxtaposition between the children’s TV world of Sesame Street and adulthood and the real world. A theme further continued with the inclusion of Gary Coleman, a famous child actor who as an adult is forced to take a job as a building superintendent.

Avenue Q provides an array of innocent looking characters discussing the real life concerns of racism, prejudice, homelessness and pornography. And it does so through endless amusement, keeping the audience in stitches with dark humour and shock tactics.

a little wet behind the ears

Eusog, the Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group, certainly give the show vitality. The small group of eleven actors truly embody their puppet counterparts. Using their entire bodies, they bring the puppet characters to life.

Princeton, the main character of the show played by Scott Meenan, begins the show young, gullible and a little wet behind the ears, but full of enthusiasm. This really comes across through his performance as the puppeteer mirrors the puppet. Rebecca Simmonds, playing Lucy the Slut, also flounces around the stage in true diva style, perfectly in tune with the characterisation of her puppet.

In fact, from Alistair Mackay’s performance as repressed roommate Nicky, through the whole range of characters to Craig Methven’s porn-mad Trekkie Monster, the cast’s performances are faultless. They act, they sing, they dance and they skilfully manipulate the puppeteering mechanisms – and they do so to great comedic effect.

The Bad Idea Bears, cuddly but vicious (Robin Morrison and Jay Cameron). Photo: Eusog

The Bad Idea Bears, cuddly but vicious (Robin Morrison and Jay Cameron). Photo: Eusog

The Bad Idea Bears, played by Jay Cameron and Robin Morrison, are terrifyingly realistic. Adorable yet sinister as they try and persuade everyone to act irresponsibly, their darkness is balanced against their chipper, optimistic outlook.

The staging of the set is managed through a changing full screen behind the performers, an innovative way of managing a fringe show and making sure set changes are slick. That said, some of the props changeovers could do with a little polish. At times too, the strong vocals are overpowered by the musical accompaniment, which might be improved with the use of microphones.

Overall, under Dominic Lewis’ direction, the Eusog team deliver a vibrant, triumph of a show. With a couple of minor refinements in staging and sound, it could be exceptional. And between you and me, Princeton and the gang also do prove that when you’re with people you love, fantasies (do) come true.

Caution, this show contains full puppet nudity.

Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes (no interval)
Paradise in Augustines, 41 George IV Bridge, EH1 1EL (Venue 152) ​ ​
Sat 2 – Sun 10 August 2014
Daily, 22.45
Tickets: edfringe.com/whats-on/avenue-q
Eusog’s Avenue Q website: www.avenueqfringe.com


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