Theatre review: Avenue Q, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

IT’S NO longer a new show, and it’s even half a decade since Sell A Door launched this hugely successful British touring production. Yet Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx’s musical-with-puppets Avenue Q, first seen in New York in 2003, still has the power to attract a younger adult audience to venues like the King’s Theatre than any other show on the circuit; and its no-holds-barred mix of economic and sexual frankness about the plight of millennials with degrees but no jobs, and little prospect of a conventional marriage-and-family future, remains both irresistibly entertaining, and just slightly, merrily visionary about the way our western society is changing.

Avenue Q is still as fresh and funny as ever
Avenue Q is still as fresh and funny as ever

Avenue Q, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh ****

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The Avenue Q of the title is a run-down street in outer urban New York, of the kind probably even more threatened by developers now than it was 15 years ago. It’s inhabitants include our hero Princeton, an unemployed English Literature graduate in search of a purpose in life, a black street superintendent who used to be child TV star Gary Coleman, a comely female monster called Kate, and some other lively flotsam and jetsam of urban life.

The irresistible appeal of the show, though, lies in its decision to reject naturalism, and caricature the despairs and indignities of millennial urban living through a series of terrific puppet figures, who play not all of the characters, but most of them. Add a playlist of 20 songs as wickedly witty as they are heartfelt, and a stunning performances from the show’s team of superb singer-puppeteers led by a brilliant Cecily Redman as Kate Monster and Lucy The Slut, and you have a truly beguiling show for our time, wise, kind, true, and joyfully funny, from start to finish.