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“Avenue Q”

Avenue Q is a quirky and rather naughty musical – which does not always appeal to some people – it is a bit of a ‘marmite’ show – however, I love it, and thought BTC did the best amateur version I have seen to date.

The set worked very well – leaving a good expanse of stage for the cast to use, and I liked the lighting – it created moods and enhanced the action.

Musically the cast were strong – as is always the case when Graham Thomson is at the helm, and the band although small created good sounds and interest alongside the musical numbers.  Situating the band where it is was a good idea and works extremely well for a small venue.

Unfortunately for me, there is no need to comment on costumes, as only one person wore anything other than black – which was Austin Marshall as Brian, his attire was gaudy and well-worn, exactly as one would expect.  The puppets obviously needed to stand out, hence the simple black clothing.

The fun and also the slightly darker side of the piece were clearly marked, and I liked director Peter Dodsworth’s way of keeping it fairly simple and letting the puppets be the stars – as it should be.

What I liked was that everyone had a nice part that they could really get into – and the two main characters Princeton and Kate Monster were played very well by David McMinn and Nicki Plummer – they injected feeling, emotion and fun into their puppets, so that they almost became the puppets.  I loved their musical numbers together, they really showed their feelings for each other, and the ‘bedroom’ scene was great fun – quite explicit, but not offensive – probably because at the end of the day it was just two puppets!!!  

The double armed puppets were nicely managed – I should think these are much more difficult than the single arm versions, as not only do you have to think of the arm you’re using, but also the other person behind you.  

Nicky played by Iain Fowles was a nicely-created character, and I always think that if you’re looking at the puppet rather than the person then the actor has got it right!!  However, the actor still needs to use their facial expressions, otherwise the words don’t sound right.  Iain got it right, and I liked If You Were Gay, he delivered it well.  

I loved Trekkie the very hairy, very rude monster – he was definitely full-on and hilarious, well-played by Zac Abbott.  The Internet is for Porn was a super number, so irreverent, but really well delivered.

James Yank gave us a well-crafted Rod, you got his confusion and wariness about being gay.

I was a little disappointed at first that Gary Coleman was a puppet, operated spoken by a woman – but Sophie Bowlzer won me over, and I enjoyed the concept that he too was a puppet.

Hannah Vessey as Lucy the Slut could, for me, have been a little more sluttish, although she performed and sang her numbers well, the drum accompaniment to her walk promised more than actually happened.

I liked Sian Marshall as Christmas Eve, her accent was a little too much at times, and obscured the lib, but she gave her a wicked edge, and a good relationship with Brian.

The Bad Idea Bears, Shell Clohessy and Ruth Salsbury gave the impression of really trying very hard to get the others to buy into their bad ideas – I enjoyed them but thought at times they could have been even more persuasive.

Gisele Yoh-Fowles created the very strict Mrs T – a lovely characterisation.

Angus Hughes along with Greet Janssens were very good ‘right hands’ for the double-handed puppets, and blended very well with the main speaking partners – not an easy thing to do.

Robbie Owens Angus Hughes, Greet Janssens and Pauline Aldridge coped well with the other smaller parts and I particularly liked Robbie Owens in his small solo part towards the end of the production.

So, overall a very good production, everyone blended well, and worked their puppets to the hilt – with lots of irreverent fun, and also some quite emotive moments.  I really enjoyed, and appreciated the work that goes into operating the puppets, and the musical numbers were also most enjoyable, with some lovely voices and good interpretive skills.

Berkhamsted Theatre Company

AVENUE Q” 8th NOV 2014

The Court Theatre, Pendley

Director: Peter Dodsworth M.D: Graham Thomson


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