Remember a time pre-internet when most of our entertainment – for children, at least – came from the small picture box in the living room? Back in the 1970s and early ’80s, kids pretty much had a finite choice of TV shows to enjoy: Here’s Humphrey, Fat Cat & Friends, Playschool and, of course, Sesame Street. Of these four, three were definitively Australian, but the fourth, though an international production, infiltrated our little Aussie minds heavily, having taught us everything from our ABCs to cute songs about pigeons.
Fast-forward a few decades, and the Jim Henderson school of puppets and muppets (yes, the very company behind Sesame Street) have taken their artistry to the theatrical stage, veering content toward a decidedly more ‘adult’ audience, and often to absurd extremes.
Avenue Q is the very funny live production that sees Sesame Street-esque puppets rub shoulders with human actors, these puppets ‘commenting’ on pretty much all that is wrong (and a couple of things that are, well, alright) with contemporary culture. The show proved immensely popular on Broadway and has now made a return to Crown Theatre in Perth.
Part flesh and blood, part velcro and felt, but packed full of punch, Avenue Q might appear cutesy on an aesthetic level, but the scripting is sordid as any lewd stand-up comedy act. On more than one occasion, things get fairly risque in the sex department. And a modern show wouldn’t be worth its political salt if it didn’t chuck in a couple of quips out about bad man Donald Trump.
But while simulated sex scenes between puppets and blatant political leanings might catch viewers off-guard at first, you kind of wish the producers went all the way with the insanely overt comments and antics. Basically, they ought to have made the clear-cut decision of whether ‘Avenue Q’ was to be regarded a show for adults, or a family-friendly event (albeit only just).
Of all the characters, including Princeton, the principle guy who is looking for his purpose in life, to Lucy, the town slut, I enjoyed to cheek of the two ‘Bad Idea Bears’ who would constantly get in the ear of our protagonists like those ‘Should I? Shouldn’t I?’ voices adults often hear in their heads when having to make a moral/non-moral decision.
So don’t think this is any ordinary puppet show. Be prepared to be transported into a world of debauchery, where puppets and humans mingle with gregarious consequences. From sexual congress, failed childhood stardom and excessive drinking, to issues of race and searching for the meaning of life, Avenue Q hilariously navigates the human condition… from a puppet’s perspective.
See it, laugh lots, and occasionally laugh so hard you’ll cry. Antonino Tati
‘Avenue Q’ is on at Crown Theatre, Perth, from 26 November to 10 December.
For tickets visit www.ticketmaster.com.au.