YOU may never look at The Muppets the same way again. You could even find yourself having doubts about that innocent-looking Sooty and Sweep, wondering what’s really been going on under the table all those years.
Puppets everywhere may well come under suspicion after you’ve seen this off-the-wall American musical which casts the curious critters in a whole new light.
What you may well have thought – from first sight of the publicity posters – was a children’s show is actually a bizarre exposé of the underbelly (literally) of a puppet world fuelled by lively sex, relationship problems and cheery songs with titles such as If You Were Gay, Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist and The Internet’s For Porn.
Among the human cast, puppeteers, dressed in black but perfectly visible, bring to life the unusual inhabitants of a downtown New York street and at first I was distracted by watching their facial expressions as their colourful charges become embroiled in what is essentially a rather charming boy (puppet) meets girl (puppet) love story.
And with puppet sex on the agenda (and don’t imagine the fact they are cut off at the waist restricts them in the bedroom department), you might not want to take along young kids.
But it’s a good-natured, very funny show and you actually find yourself caring about ordinary little Kate Monster (puppeteer Katharine Moraz – who is also love rival Lucy the Slut – in particularly fine voice) who dreams of opening a monster school; Princeton (Durham-born Sam Lupton), who’s looking for a purpose in life, and Rod (Lupton again), the lonely closet gay.
The show’s a Tony Award-winner which made its debut in 2003 but it feels more old-school, with a boyfriend’s gift of a “mixed tape” and bizarre inclusion of a (real-life) character purporting to be Gary Coleman, former star of 1980s American sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, if anyone remembers that.
Although it’s a little over-long, I enjoyed it. If you want to say you’ve seen it all, and are willing to enter into the spirit of fun, then pull a few strings and get yourself a ticket.