I went to see this musical yesterday at the Theatre Royal in Norwich with Ms P. It was the smallest crowd I’ve seen at the Royal since the second half of some Victoria Wood nonsense that played there many moons ago (second half because part of the audience didn’t come back after the interval), with whole rows empty, but the crowd seemed to be having a good time, with one notable exception. Unfortunately that one exception was sitting next to me: Ms P was simply not amused, and expressed extreme doubt as to the judgement of theatre critics who’d given it five stars, along with plenty of other negative stuff somewhat more forcefully put (but this is a family blog).
Regardless, I was well pleased with this tale of the inhabitants of Brooklyn’s Avenue Q and their crappy lives. Right from the opening lines of “It Sucks To Be Me” I was there, and with other songs taking in homophobia, racism (“Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist”) and poverty it was a musical with a heart and a message, though not one that was allowed to get in the way of making the audience laugh.
The use of puppets gave it an originality missing from most other musicals (and, as Ms P reminded me, not entirely in a manner denoting approval, I did use to love The Muppet Show), while the inclusion of Gary Coleman as the paradigm example of the American dream turned sour was a masterstroke of inspiration. The only reservation I had was the end where everything is resolved by a ‘fairy godmonster’ dropping $10m out of an upstairs window to make Kate Monster’s dreams come true. It seemed totally against the run of play and not at all sympathetic to the underlying message that there are no easy solutions, but guess they had to end it somehow.
After we left the theatre I was singing to myself and Ms P was grinding her teeth (but my singing usually has that effect). No prizes for guessing which song stayed with me more than any other.