Getting away with it... in Southampton

The show’s got a massive cult following, and from the thick of it, Chris Thatcher can see exactly why as Avenue Q heads for Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre from July 9-14.

Chris was first involved as an understudy four years ago – the start of a long and happy association.

“We essentially play around with puppets every day, be rude, make people laugh and get paid for it. It couldn’t really be better!”

The Tony Award-winning Avenue Q is the irresistibly-charming musical about the lovably-hopeless characters on a downtown New York street trying to make sense of life’s burning issues: love, work, relationships and, above all, just how are you supposed to pay the bills with a BA in English?

As Chris says, not only is it funny, it uses puppets in a new way. You see the people operating the puppets next to the puppets they are operating – all of which creates a new relationship between them.

Especially as with puppets, you can get away with so much.

Chris likens it to the toddler who comments loudly about an ugly woman in a supermarket. The toddler gets away with it. Everyone just thinks the toddler is being young and innocent.

And the same applies to puppets: “It’s never really offensive, but it takes the mickey out of everyone!”

The show has been described as Sesame Street for adults, with a similar educational emphasis, except this isn’t 123, ABC, it’s about sexual identity and racism. Not that it is in-your-face education, Chris stresses. First and foremost, it’s just huge fun.

Chris plays the porn-obsessed Trekkie Monster who sits at home all day watching porn and is convinced that he is having a great time.

“It’s that Trekkie like the Star Trek fans who are obsessed with watching. The Trekkie Monster just sits at home all the time watching porn and just thinks it is amazing!”

Tickets on www.mayflower.org.uk.