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'Sesame Street after dark' is not for the kids

Bord Gais Energy Theatre >Chris Wasser

What do you do with a BA in English? A lad by the name of Princeton has no idea. He's 23 and moving in to his own place -- a tiny apartment in the outer boroughs of New York City.

It's called Avenue Q. And it's a bit of a dump. But the neighbours are nice. There's the Asian therapist and her lazy, overweight fiance; Rod and Nicky (they're just friends, okay?); Gary Coleman (yes, that Gary Coleman), and a couple of monsters.

When things get tough, they break into song and dance. Princeton is a puppet -- the monsters, too. And you can see the puppeteers. Indeed, what we're dealing with here is Sesame Street after the sun goes down -- with the characters a little older, the beer in cans, and the sex as casual as you'd expect from a chick called 'Lucy the Slut'. Avenue Q flips on its head the notion that cute puppets and furry monsters can teach us the important things in life, such as how to count, how to share, or how to learn to love yourself.

Trekkie Monster, on the other hand, loves himself just a little too much.


Tongue firmly planted in cheek, the Tony Award-winning musical presents a colourful and often bizarre blend of characters and themes that, while asking a lot of its audience, somehow manages to work.

That little or no effort is made to hide the puppeteers takes getting used to, but the pace and energy of Avenue Q casts these gifted performers into the background -- which is quite an achievement.

It helps, of course, that the songs, courtesy of Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and Stephen Oremus, are fantastic, and that each and every talented participant is clearly having a ball.

Sure, it's a little messed up (there are sex scenes ... involving the puppets), but its political incorrectness (song titles include If You Were Gay and Everyone's a Little Bit Racist) is what makes you laugh. And if it doesn't, then as Princeton and his neighbours would say -- it sucks to be you. HHHHI

Last night tonight at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre