Avenue Q is not a show for children or those easily offended. Despite the bright colours and characters that make up the show, anyone pondering over the choice of taking their kids to see this production should leave the offspring at home. The show IS however for all of the kids living within us in our adult lives. It's fun to see puppet sex and hairy monsters ranting about the joys of porn on stage, it allows us all to let our hair down for a couple of hours and the walls around us to fall down.
The show works in that it plays on things that are true to life. It may use these for laughs, such as the troubles of a man coming to terms with his sexuality, but it never feels like exploitation. Comedy should rarely be restricted and so it's refreshing to see people so willing to take risks for the betterment of a show, rather than allowing it to become stale and 'so-so'.
Following the story of Princeton - puppeteered impeccably by Richard Lowe - Avenue Q tells the tale of a young graduate who moves to New York with big dreams and ambitions, hoping he can find his purpose in life and on the way, coming across a cast of unforgettable characters.
Every single member of the cast we saw was outstanding. From the puppeteers in Lowe, Stephen Arden, Sarah Harlington, Jessica Parker and the ensemble, to the members who played 'humans' as we know them, Arina II, Richard Morse and Etisyai Philip. All those who graced the stage were a joy to watch and an utter professional.
Though the puppeteers stand clear as day beside their puppets, they're not at all distracting, instead adding to the performance through their own facial expressions and reactions. At times you forget that what you're watching is basically the X-rated version of Sesame Street - the cast have that quality of transporting you right into their world.
The standout for me was Arina as Christmas Eve. Her comedic timing was perfect, she had a gorgeous voice and she's the only therapist I'd ever pay to see, despite her less than conventional approach.
The ability to poke fun at one's self is hugely underrated, but one that works very well through Avenue Q. Leaving the show you may be questioning your morality, but you certainly won't be left without a smile on your face. Especially when the cast take the perfect swipe at the nation's beloved Prime Minister, David Cameron.
Avenue Q runs at Manchester's Palace Theatre until Saturday, May 7.