Theatre Review - Avenue Q, The Lowry, Salford

Avenue Q characters
Avenue Q characters

As new generations are switched on to the delights of the Muppets, back comes the stage musical targeted squarely at the cohort originally brought up on the subversive wit of the original pastel-coloured puppets . . . and their more educated cousins down on Sesame Street.

Not that this show has anything to do with Jim Henson’s original creations, as it is always at pains to point out.

It probably does not need to carry such a disclaimer nowadays, having achieved its own life force throughout 10 years on Broadway, in the West End, and now on its second national UK tour.

Avenue Q takes, as its starting point, the belief that even adolescent marionettes – or People of Fur – must grow up, at which moment they are faced with all the same rites of passage dilemmas as the rest of us.

So out of the face-wide mouths of polyester puppets come all sorts of rude ruminations on life, sex, race, sex, purpose, sex, commitment, and sex.

The cookie philosophy and stripped-down sentiment of it all is powered by the same sort of chirpy music its audience will recall from Sesame, but with rather more profound, or profane, lyrics.

There are even cartoon ‘punctuation marks’ around parts of the story, delivered on drop-down TV screens.

It’s well worth any audience pondering the words of We’re All a Little Bit Racist, but Avenue Q never, ever obeys it’s other stand-out song There’s a Fine, Fine Line.

Instead it’s all delivered with great gusto and humour by a hard-working cast and hits its target audience right where it matters, with below-the-belt humour.

Manchester-trained 21-year-old Sam Lupton adds to his already impressive credentials playing both Princeton and Rod with eerily-authentic Brooklyn accents.

Be warned though: If you vividly remember the Cookie Monster you’ll be shocked to see his modern successor, Trekkie Monster, has a rather more primitive obsession.