Welcome to the iJourno project. Here is a selection of work created by the iJourno teams across Greater Manchester since January 2005. Each week, groups of young people work with journalist Alison Barton to write, edit and publish their own work. If you would like to take part or would like more information email al_barton1979@yahoo.co.uk

Monday, June 19, 2006

Avenue Q: Brought to you by the letters F and U!

Opening soon in London's West End theatre land, AvenueQ is a musical about life, friendships, purpose, and above all, love. It's also about internet porn, monsters, laughing atother people?s misfortune, and the fact that everyone's a little bit racist.
Finally, it features hand puppets as the lead characters. Not your typical Andrew Lloyd Webber production then.Avenue Q draws its inspiration from Sesame Street, but viewed from fractured perspective.
There are characters that in no way resemble a certain biscuit-munching monster and a couple of orange and yellow flat-mates. If you've ever seen Meet The Feebles, then you've got the general idea. As you might have guess by now, this is not a show for the young ones, despite its the cutesy characters. Swearing features sparingly throughout and there is graphic simulated puppet sex at one point (think Team America for a mental image).
Our main character is Princeton, newly graduated with a useless BA in English and wondering what to do with his life. He finds himself on Avenue Q, an area so bad that moving to the Lower East Side is a step up (one of few Americanism that doesn't really work, though you get the general idea).
There he meet's the other residents ? Brian and Christmas Eve, two of the three characters who arelive (humans, not puppets), Kate Monster, who is looking for love, Rod (who is denial about being gay) and Nick, flat mates who are constantly bickering, Gary Coleman (yes, the name does ring a bell), the superintendent and finally, Trekkie Monster.
The story then follows their lives as Princeton tries to find his purpose, Brian and Christmas Eve look forwork, Kate dreams of opening a school for monsters, Nick tries to help Rod come out of the closet and Trekkie monster?well the less said the better.
Causing trouble for them are the Bad Idea Bears, so cute, yet so malicious. To begin with, it's an unusual sight to see the puppeteers carrying their characters, but it soon becomes fascinating. They smile and frown along with them. It's astonishing at times, with the four main puppeteers swapping roles repeatedly and having conversations with themselves as two separate characters. Also, considering that most of the cast are English, they all pull off their American accents with aplomb. Everything about this show is first rate and I have to say that I loved it and would very much like to see it again. Previews run until June 28 in the Noel Coward Theatre and then the show officially opens. Go see it as soon as possible.

Author: Gareth Hacking
Manchester iJourno group


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