Trekkie Monster takes centre stage
Trekkie Monster takes centre stage

The puppets of Avenue Q are a (sesame) treat

For those of us who are of a certain age, puppets on TV were our friends and sometime teachers.

So many of us will have learned to count with Sesame Street, (remember the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 song?), which also taught as harmony between people of different cultural backgrounds,  picked up fun songs from the Muppets, and laughed along with the Fraggles as they outwitted the Gorgs.

Avenue Q, currently performing at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow, shows that puppets aren’t just kids stuff. They’re far more than that…

Through the use of puppets, we are given an interesting look on society today, offering parodies and indeed parallels to the world, which makes difficult subject matters slightly more easy to tackle.

Over the past couple of decades, things which were traditionally made for children, such as cartoons, have been created for adults, with the rise of cartoons such as South Park, Family Guy and Rick & Morty. Avenue Q is very much in that mould, except with puppets.

We meet Princeton, a young (puppet) man who arrives in the neighbourhood of Avenue Q, where humans and puppets live together, without commenting on their differences – and it’s also the home to Kate Monster and Trekkie Monster (don’t suggest they are related – that’s racist. Cue the song Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist). The difference between the monsters and the puppets? The monsters have slightly longer hair…

We meet the humans Brian and his wife Christmas Eve, as well as good puppet friends Rod and Nicky (think Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street, but with added sexual tension), as well as Gary Coleman. Yes, THAT Gary Coleman. But not quite that Gary Coleman, as the Diff’rent Strokes star is played by an actor.

As Princeton looks to find his purpose in life, he and Kate get closer, as Kate wants to realise her dream of opening a school just for monsters. However, things get complicated when, on a night out, Princeton meets Kate the Slut. We’re definitely not in Sesame Street any more.

With Nick and Rod as a faux Bert and Ernie, there’s also the ingenious Trekkie Monster (whose voice is virtually identical to Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster), who is obsessed with finding pornography on the internet, which leads to the brilliant song The Internet is for Porn.

Trekkie Monster takes centre stage with Kate Monster (no relation) in Avenue Q

Avenue Q is absolutely full of laugh out loud moments – I never thought I would see puppet copulation (and as a result, laugh my head off at it), along with the most hilarious heart monitor pattern when Lucy the Slut is hospitalised, and the hand gestures of Trekkie Monster have to be constantly watched as he whips the audience into a frenzy.

And a word too for the Bad Idea Bears – they’re cute, with shrill voices, and provide those little devils on the shoulder and the whispers in the ear, that encourage us to do the wrong thing. They’re not overused, and that makes them all the funnier.

The performers have a difficult job to do – not only do they have to perform their lines and sing their songs, but the majority of the cast also have to operate puppets – and they do it with aplomb. They truly are puppet masters of their craft – and they’ve learned from the best, through Pipkins’ Nigel Plaskitt. They are full of energy, and have a joie de vivre that totally infected the audience, who were laughing throughout.

What I found interesting was that my attention was focusing on the puppets, and not the performer, which isn’t meant as a slight on them. Far from it. They do their job as puppeteers with such skill that you can forget they are on stage operating their fuzzy friends, as you focus on the performance and not the performer.

Avenue Q isn’t highbrow entertainment. It doesn’t profess to be. What it does is take a trope we all recognise, give it an adult twist – done with so much love and affection, and create a fantastic show which is fun – and fur – all the way.

Performances at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow are Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at 7.30pm, Friday at 6pm and 8.30pm, and also Saturday at 2.30pm. Please note – this show has age guidance of 14+.

Click HERE for further details and to book tickets at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow.