18th Dec, 2018

Naughtiness at the Norbury as the hilarious Avenue Q comes to Droitwich

THERE was naughtiness at the Norbury when the Droitwich theatre staged the adult puppet-based musical Avenue Q.

It centres on Princeton who moves to the neighbourhood, searching for his purpose in life.

There was a slow start as the audience got their heads around the concept and suspended its disbelief but once they had got into it this was a very funny show.

This was a very ambitious and challenging piece to pull off and the cast and crew duly rose to the occasion.

The logistics with so many puppet characters on the stage sometimes, and the actors as well, must have been a directorial nightmare but Kirsty Bull had it down to a tee.

It was good to have the actors alongside the puppets to add more intricate facial expressions, epitomising the emotions of the characters.

This is far from just a fantastically funny production though, there are a lot of life issues and situations explored, including sexuality, race, growing up and commitment – between people and with regard to life in general.

The best performers were Jake Jones as Princeton and Hollie Christian-Brookes as Kate Monster who the audience both took to their hearts. And as well the laugh-out-loud comedy, one of the main highlights of the show was the poignant song There’s a Fine, Fine Line, performed excellently by Christian-Brookes to take the show into the interval.

When the par got to know each other ‘properly’ shortly before then, it was a scene most people would not want to have watched with their parents, despite it involving puppets. And it is at that point it became clear why a ’14 and over’ age limit had been placed on it.

Jennifer Chow as the Japanese character Christmas Eve had the audience in fits of laughter and Rachel Bloomer was great as Gary Coleman.

The strangest thing about this production is the emotional attachment to the characters the crowd has, feeling for them and the predicament they are in.

Among the musical highlights were the song ‘If You Were Gay’ by Nicky (Tom Paine) and Rod (Sam Jeffrey) and ‘Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist’.

The live orchestra was faultless throughout, although the microphones could have been raised for some parts as it was difficult to hear some of the lyrics being performed.

The set was fantastic and enabled characters to come and go via doors and appear at upstairs windows and there was a good use of the screens, which helped with the parody of the popular American children’s television programme it is parodying.

In truth, children’s puppet TV shows will never be watched in the same light again after this – and there will be a smile or a giggle or two next time youngsters put one on the box again.

In fact, just like children do when they watch their favourite programmes over and over, this could well be watched a number of times and be enjoyed equally each time.

The next performances of Avenue Q are at 7.30pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, June 14, 15 and 16, and next Wednesday to Saturday, June 20 to 23.

For tickets or more information, visit norburytheatre.co.uk or call 01905 770154.

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