12th July 2016
Hessle Theatre Company
Hull Truck Theatre
Type of Production
Author: Tony Harris
If I had been told that one day I’d be reviewing a performance by a cast of puppets I would not have believed it. Yet here I am doing just that!
Not having seen Avenue Q previously I had been told to approach the show with an open mind – a suggestion that was repeated in the programme – and the advice was sound. The content of the show could offend some people as it includes a number of potentially taboo subjects including racism, sex, homosexuality and pornography. However, I thought it was hilarious! A further comment in the programme was that this Tony Award winner is a “laugh out loud” musical. I did, several times, and I wasn’t alone.
The manipulation of the puppets was possibly the main challenge presented to the talented cast in this show telling of college graduate Princeton who moves into Avenue Q and tries to find his purpose in life. Whilst “stunt” puppets were used in rehearsal, performance puppets were only available just prior to the production.
All performers, including the three human characters in the story, were exceptional and I feel it would be wrong to single anyone out for special comments except to say that the puppeteers showed high levels of skill. Close teamwork was evident from the start with humans and puppets interacting extremely well. It’s fair to say that audiences have a choice of whether to look at the puppets or their manipulators – I did a bit of both with perhaps emphasis on the puppets but it was interesting to see the actors transferring their thoughts to their charges, and vice versa. Facial expressions were also fun to watch.
There are some excellent songs in the show and all were strongly sung and well accompanied at a good pace by a small band.
The set was a two level structure with doors at each end and windows above which were utilised efficiently. Video screens were also used each side of the stage.
This production attained the society’s usual high standard, was thoroughly enjoyable and I’m not the only person who likes to be entertained at the theatre. Purpose accomplished!