When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Avenue Q: New Theatre, Oxford
It was obvious from the word go that Avenue Q was something special, such was the expectant hush as the curtain went up and I realised I was definitely seated next to someone who’d been before, an ardent fan digging her nails into the seat in excitement.
What unfolded was worth waiting for. What to write about it, though, is much harder, because although this is essentially an adult show with a 16-plus certificate, Avenue Q is comfortably risqué. Yes the puppets, which resemble muppets, have a hilarious full-on sex scene, but it makes you cry with laughter rather than squeal in horror. The songs are also provocatively titled — Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist, If You Were Gay, You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You’re Makin’ Love) and The Internet Is for Porn — but they are sung with the full gusto of any West End musical, with wonderful tunes and harmonising, which dilute the subject matter.
And because the entire show is set on Avenue Q and centres on a group of resident muppets/puppets and their problems, you feel like you are in on the action. It’s very inclusive.
To set the scene, Princeton arrives at Avenue Q with a “useless” degree and a suitcase, waiting for his life to begin, and finds out that being a grown-up comes with a whole new set of problems. The first half addresses his meet-a-nice-girl, then have a commitment-phobic moment and play around with the wonderfully named Lucy The Slut, while trying to find your purpose. But in the second half it slightly loses its bite, being disappointingly less controversial as it turns into more of a Disneyesque story-line with the expected happy ending.
However, the slick delivery, addictive tunes, strikingly professional actors, fabulous sets, and all round singing-and-dancing atmosphere make this a night to remember.
Until Saturday. Box office: 0844 847 1588 (www.atgtickets.com/oxford).