Leigh Lothian, centre (Kate Monster & Lucy the Slut)
Katie Bradley (Bad Idea Bears)
Avenue Q at The Gatehouse
A porn-loving Trekkie monster, some suicidal fluffy bears and just ‘a little bit of racism’. ‘Avenue Q' is an inspired combination of puppets and people, cheek and charm. Jeff Marx and Robert ‘Book of Mormon’ Lopez’s show ran for six years on Broadway and five in the West End. Now making an audacious London fringe premiere, this potty-mouthed puppet show is as witty and warm-hearted as ever.
Director John Plews’s production team boasts many ‘Avenue Q’ stalwarts, including puppet consultant Nigel Plaskitt and puppet creator Paul Jomain. Such experienced hands lend the production real swagger and gloss. The actors have been trained brilliantly and the performers and puppets work as one. The show is also more intimate than its West End predecessor: the puppets reach out into the audience, brushing us with their fur and blasting their dirty jokes directly into our beaming faces.
The cast is exceptionally strong and versatile. Will Jennings is charming – with just a dash of self-importance – as soul-searching puppet Princeton. Leigh Lothian is a massive musical talent and her big numbers are as delicate as they are powerful. Josh Wilmott is the stand-out puppeteer and his shaggy haired, sex-obsessed Trekkie is comedy gold.
There's the gentle naïveté of ‘Sesame Street’ in here, spiced up with a bit of ‘South Park’ straight talking. A one of a kind show, which exposes us to some hard-core puppet porn – yet still charms the pants off us.
By Miriam Gillinson