I went to see this muppet musical with a couple of friends on the Friday before Christmas (hello John and Nick!) and had a thoroughly good time.
I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it when the first puppeteer (dressed in grey to indicate that you’re not meant to pay him any attention) appeared on stage, moving orange-skinned new college graduate Princeton into Avenue Q. But once Princeton’s packing boxes joined him in singing What do you do with a BA in English? I knew that these were fabric people I could identify with. Poor Princeton, looking for a purpose, having studied literature, I do so relate.
It’s a very enjoyable show – you’ll like it most if you remember the Cookie Monster – here converted into Trekkie Monster, with an addiction for porn instead of cookies – and Bert and Ernie – here revealed in all the fullness of their sexual confusion (come on, admit it, you always had suspicions about Bert!) and Gary Coleman. It’s a show with a story, crazy as it might seem, about how we live now. There were times I just about cringed. Sometimes when someone has a crush on you, Kate Monster sings, they’ll make you a mix tape to give you a clue. What woman can’t see herself in that? And then there is the cheery truth recognised in songs like Everyone’s a little bit racist, real pathos in the Bert-character’s insisting that he has a girlfriend, who lives in Canada, and perhaps funniest of all, the Bad Idea Bears (two pastel-coloured teddies who pop onto stage with suggestions about what Princeton should do with the last of his money – spend it on beer – and in one outrageous scene, playfully waving a noose at him and sulking off when the temptation is rejected.)
And silly as it might seem, there’s real character growth from the opening song It sucks to be me to the finale where puppets and humans together realise that all their problems are only for now. I’d recommend it to anyone.