THE MEMBERS WHO deftly handle the various puppet characters are a brilliant lot. They help defi ne the different tiny entities and before long you forget about the handlers and become absorbed by the antics of “people” such as Princeton, Lucy, Kate Monster, Rod and the Bad Idea Bears. They are fun to watch and the message they convey has real meaning in today’s self-centred Universe. The dialogue is raunchy and observing a pair of puppets indulging in the sex act in bed is hilarious. They warn you at the theatre’s entrance about these naughty puppets.
A superb team of puppeteer-actors give vocal power to their charges. They are Ashleigh Harvey (Kate Monster/Lucky), Ryan Flynn (Princeton/Rod), Daniel Geddes (Nicky/Trekkie Monster), Nieke Lombard (Female Bad Idea Bear/Mrs T), and Graeme Wicks (Bad Idea Bear/Ricky). Gary Coleman was an AfricanAmerican TV child star of the 70s and 80s who starred in the popular sit-com Diff’rent Strokes. He died in 2010 but his name has been hijacked for a sassy character named Gary Coleman, played by Yamikani Mahaka-Phiri. Coleman is the superintendant of a block of run-down apartments in New York in which reside some of the puppets. The only humans living there are the convivial, unemployed, Jewish lad, Brian (Grant Towers) and his strong-willed, opinionated Japanese wife, Christmas Eve, played with high-pitched intensity by Rebecca Hartle. Songezo Khumalo slips in and out of the show and is part of the ensemble.
With that sorted out, the story is about Princeton looking for a purpose in life and how the different characters have an impact on his journey. “Misery loves company,” as the saying goes, and each quirky character has a story to tell. Backed up by a roster of wonderfully catchy music, this Timothy Le Roux directed production zings with energy and good laughs. The music and lyrics are by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, book by Jeff Whitty, and the South African production has Dawid Boverhoff as its musical director.
Kosie Smit did the puppet designs and they are certainly a sight to behold. For a totally different theatrical experience visit Avenue Q. I doubt you’ll leave without a smile on your face. I am still chuckling.
Avenue Q is at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre in Fourways.