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Review: Shrek The Musical


By: Rosie Sharman-Ward, TRP Reviewer


Gross, hilarious and completely wonderful, Shrek the Musical has it all right from the start. From the poignant beginning the show sings, dances and twinkles its way through the familiar story punctuated by plenty of belches, farts and ogre sized belly laughs. In spite of his regrettable personal hygiene habits and irascible nature, Shrek, captured brilliantly by Antony Lawrence, quickly finds a place in the audience’s heart. A perfect foil for Brandon Lee Sears’ extraordinary Donkey whose in-your-face idea of friendship is heartwarming and extremely funny. My grandson and I have been doing the “Donkey Pose” all morning! (when you go, you’ll know!) Fiona is fabulously feisty and, thankfully, far removed from the helpless princesses of yore. Joanna Clifton as Fiona is a revelation. Who knew she can belt out a song, or a burp, as well as she dances? The odious Lord Farquaad (James Gillan) makes an excellent, vertically challenged baddie. Deeply unpleasant, selfish and unkind, we love to hate him.

Even before the show starts, the scintillating set creates a fairy tale world for the characters to inhabit. Combining just the right balance of projection and mood lighting with physical set, the intricate design by Philip Whitcomb compliments but doesn’t overwhelm. It has many clever touches to keep the adult members of the audience amused. Shrek’s Swamp looks as if it smells very bad. Fiona’s desolate tower speaks of boredom and claustrophobia. Lord Farquaad’s Duloc is suitably massive and over the top. As Shrek quips, “Do you think he might be compensating for something?”  Guarded by rather camp militia, the baddie’s home is an eclectic mix of riches and ways to appear tall plus instruments of torture. Here, as throughout the production, more visual jokes abound, many of which are aimed at the adult audience along with several droll asides.

The production ensemble is phenomenal. Amazing dancers and great singers they deliver the catchy songs in style. Most play several parts, arrayed in dazzling and witty costumes, also by Philip Whitcomb. They bring life, laughter and a little pathos to the proceedings. The Freak Flag number is an anthem for today! The Dragon (Cherece Richards) is utterly gorgeous, all eyelashes and sparkles, and has a cracking voice.

As I try to pick my standout moments from the show, I find myself laughing again even though I’m far to grown up to chuckle at such things as the fart/burp duet. My personal favourite is probably the dance with Fiona, Pied Piper and the Rats but it is very hard to choose!

I had the great pleasure of seeing Shrek with my eight year old grandson as his birthday treat. He asked if he could write a review as well, so this is his, with no help from myself other than a bit of spelling and punctuation advice:

Shrek the Musical was inspiring, exciting, a bit silly and funny. It was enjoyable and filled with happiness. Crazy and full of lots of lovely ideas. My favourite character was Donkey because he was a bit annoying, a bit silly and sometimes he didn’t concentrate on what he said! My favourite Fairy Tale character, or Freak, was the Big Bad Wolf because he was actually wearing a red sparkly dress. It is a very good show, I would recommend it for all of you!

I asked why he says the show is inspiring. Apparently, he likes the message that your dreams could come true no matter who you were and it didn’t matter what you looked like. Well done Shrek the Musical for sending positive messages in such a child friendly way without labouring the point!

Watching my grandson, eyes round with wonder or hooting with laughter and dancing along in his seat enhanced my enjoyment tenfold. If you can take a child to the show then you should but the child in you will love it anyway. I guarantee you will join us with dancing along with I’m a Believer at the end!

Shrek the Musical is at Theatre Royal Plymouth until 29 July.


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