Q the music
A small jaunt out from Perfunctory Manor for The Lovely Emma and I last night, heading for the bright city lights and weirdly depressing mall around the Lowry theatre, to see Avenue Q.
Despite Em’s multiple award-nominated involvement with amateur theatrics I have always regarded musicals as generally consisting of a very poor play with frequent interruptions. I’m not, in short, a fan. Given the choice between watching a musical and, say, having my foot amputated by a toddler with a bandsaw I would clearly watch the show… but there would be a definite pause while I weighed the options.
Avenue Q is a little different, since the music flows almost continually and is actually rather good. The setting – imagine Sesame Street described by Tom Waits – is sufficiently artificial to begin with for the whole conceit to feel much more appropriate than a world where hoodlums break into coordinated dance routines or cowboys sing about what a great morning it is. Mostly, though, it’s down to the puppets, brilliant Muppet-like creations brought to foul-mouthed life by a talented cast. Chris Thatcher and Katharine Moraz were particularly outstanding, although to be fair they did have the advantage of playing the broader, more expressive puppets (sometimes simultaneously operating one character) such as Trekkie Monster and the Bad Idea Bears. Even so, the difference between them and the leads was the difference between someone acting through a puppet and someone acting alongside a puppet. There are human characters too, including (somewhat awkwardly, given his recent death) Gary Coleman… played by an actor who is actually slightly taller than most of the other cast members.
The audience laughed and applauded and left the theatre singing “The Internet is for PORN!” which I think can be taken as a resounding endorsement, or maybe just their plan for the remainder of the evening. Great fun.