Avenue Q Makes For An Original Night Out In Wimbledon

Review: The audience loved this 'Muppets for grown-ups'

Avenue Q played to a packed New Wimbledon Theatre on a chilly Monday night – testament to the enduring appeal of this Muppets for grown-ups, which made its first appearance on the New York stage in 2002.

The show brings together a cast of misfits (puppet and human), eking out their existence in a run-down tenement building. There are plenty of sub-plots; the on-off romance between newcomer Princeton and the lonely teacher Kate, who happens to also be a monster, Kate’s dream of building a monster school and the unspoken love between gay banker Rod and his housemate Nicky. 

All of this is framed by the central disconnect of jaunty musical numbers underlying a down-beat tale, where life doesn’t quite measure up. Princeton first appears on stage singing “What do you do with a BA in English?” setting up a world, where for most of the characters, “It sucks to be me”.

The adults-only show promises an X-rated experience and I was curious as to how that might be achieved … with puppets. Certainly the scene when Princeton and Kate get it together is funny, ingenious and actually quite graphic. There are plenty of other laughs too, but while Avenue Q is a clever concept, I wouldn’t say it’s consistently hilarious. 

Presumably not too much has changed from the original storyline and it does show its age at times. When the Trekkie Monster appears at an upstairs window chanting “The Internet is for Porn” in his gravelly voice it’s funny, but was probably more so at a time before the internet was actually for … everything. The routine “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” felt dated too – does anyone laugh at people laughing at racist jokes anymore?

The seamless mix of actors, puppets and their masters still looks fresh, however, and works brilliantly making for a fast, accomplished and very original night out. The audience loved it and the show ends on the simple, and more contemporary message, that whatever your big plans or disappointments “Everything in life – Even Donald Trump - is only for now!”

By Elizabeth Thompson

March 15, 2016

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Avenue Q is at New Wimbledon Theatre until March 19