All entries for Tuesday 13 June 2006
June 13, 2006
The puppets, the porn, the bard and his lovers
Had a theatrical rather than an alcoholic weekend for a change, which kicked off on Friday night with a preview of Avenue Q the musical, fresh off Broadway and due to officially open in London at the end of June.
Whereas Sesame Street – the educational series which Avenue Q parodies – teaches children basic life skills such as how to cross the road safely and healthy eating habits, Avenue Q uses a combination of puppets, animation, and live actors to teach somewhat more grown–up children about the fundamentals of life for a 20–something year old living in a less–than–salubrious New York neighbourhood.
Princeton, the main protagonist, is a bright–eyed college graduate who rolls up on Avenue Q eager to make new friends and find his “purpose” in life. Yet as he stands out on the sidewalk, desperately trying to find a vacant apartment that suits his meagre budget, he can’t help but ponder:
What do you do with a BA in English?
What is my life going to be?
Four years of college and plenty of knowledge
Have earned me this useless degree!
The songs themselves are a clue to the somewhat more dubious educational focus of Avenue Q, with titles such as Everyone's A Little Bit Racist, You Can Be As Loud As The Hell You Like When You're Making Love, What Do You Do With A BA In English?, The Internet Is For Porn, If You Were Gay and my personal favourite – The More You Love Someone The More You Want To Kill Them (sung by Japanese expat Christmas Eve)
The teachers for this illuminating journey through the world of unemployment, drunkenness, internet porn, one night stands, anti–political correctness and friendship are a whole host of puppet characters such as Lucy the Slut, Kate Monster, the Bad Idea Bears, Trekkie Monster and Mrs Thistletwat. There are also three characters portrayed by actors, including Gary Coleman, whose apparent celebrity status in the US went largely unrecognised by the British audience.
All in all, this was a fun production – catchy songs, captivating characters and funny situations. I found the “full puppet nudity” and “graphic simulated sex between puppets” of which we had been prewarned ever–so–slightly shocking (seems a little wrong to see what are essentially children's puppets really going for it like that!). Neverthless a hilarious scene – who would have thought that those naughty muppets had it in them?
As a contrast to puppets and porn, on Saturday I went to Stratford–upon–Avon where I saw two RSC productions: Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
More to follow shortly on these 2 plays when not so tired…