From start to finish, the USyd Intercol Musical’s production of Avenue Q is riotously funny.
The story of a group of young adults trying to find employment with useless degrees, reconcile themselves to the tedium of ordinary life, and get laid is somehow even more relevant at the height of the internet age than when it was conceived in 2002. For a generation whose expectations have left us all feeling woefully inadequate, Avenue Q hits home by doing what we do best: glorying in our despair, lighting our dreams on fire and laughing while we all burn.
The performances are exceptional. Robert Meek and Hannah Barnett star as Princeton and Kate Monster, both trying to live up to their high-minded ambitions while wading through the murky waters of courtship in a pre-Tinder age. Meanwhile, the loveable scamps of Avenue Q deliver stitch-inducing comedic performances. The washed-up former child star Gary Coleman, played by Sophie Matthews, lectures us on the virtues of copulating really, really loudly, while Jules Rankin absolutely steals the show confirming what we all knew: the internet is really mostly for porn.
It would be remiss not to mention that the very white Matthews plays a black man. The college community is an overwhelmingly white pool to draw from, and no doubt this caused director Annie Tonkin some consternation. In truth, casting anyone who wasn’t white in the role would have made that slightly less uncomfortable. Still, Matthews is wry in her performance. She knows.
The cast are truly great singers. Hannah Barnett is particularly talented, and her solos hint at the scope of her voice. Hendricks and Pang are not trained singers, but nor do they try to be. It perfectly complements the comedy. Major props to musical directors Anthony Chen and Laura Heuston for the band’s seamless performance.
In short, Avenue Q hilariously encapsulates your depression at graduating with your useless degree. And there was a St Paul’s diss. Also, most of the characters are puppets. Did I not mention that? It wasn’t weird. Even when they were fucking onstage. It was awesome.