Avenue Q

Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and Jeff Whity
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Assembly Hall

A fun-filled two hours of hilarious acting, catchy songs and randy puppets as the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland shows the Fringe what it does best.

Avenue Q tells the story of Princeton, a new arrival into an area of downtown New York, and his new neighbours as he goes in search of his "Purpose" in life. The majority of characters being played by Jim Henson-esque puppets creates a fun environment that enables the story to touch on a number of modern day issues such as racism and coming out in a comical way, without being overly offensive.

The acting on the whole is superb with the puppeteers almost disappearing into the background as the figurine in their hands takes the limelight. Conor Scully as Princeton is an absolutely captivating performer easily stealing the show. His cute portrayal of the naïve yet desperate puppet is hilarious and heartfelt. Rebecca Hardcastle as Kate Monster complements him beautifully bringing a fantastic sharpness to the character that is both humorous and touching. Both of the lead actors have a stunning vocal ability and bubbly personalities the audience can't help but adore. David Alves and Tom Mackley as gay puppet couple Rod and Nicky must also be credited for their superb comic timing.

On the other hand the ensemble bring the show down to a cringeworthy level at certain points. Their odd costumes (from a clown suit to a girl with a banana in her hair) and the bizarre transitions they enact to cover scene changes really do distract from the superb show going on around them. Also perhaps the biggest change to the musical is turning Trekkie Monster (the largest and most inarticulate puppet) Glaswegian. Laura Szalecki is evidently putting her all into such a fun part but the accent chosen really ruins the whole feel of the piece and her portrayal of the character.

Richard Evan's ingenious, dolls house-esque set uses a static backdrop with fold out and pop areas to distinguish where the scenes in front of it are taking place. The lighting for the show is phenomenal using a great amount of strip lights to add colours to the bleak toned set. Andrew Panton's small scale choreography and direction fits perfectly into it with everything building to a warmhearted finale that would make anyone's heart skip a beat.

Avenue Q by the Royal Conservatoire or Scotland is a superb production that deserves high praise and will leave you with a smile on your face long after you have left the theatre.

Avenue Q runs until 27 August at Assembly Hall.

Reviewer: Liam Blain

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