Theatre Review - Shrek the Musical

Posted by Alexander Hay

Large, green and rather theatrical

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Yet another West End musical comes based on a hit film, but Jason Moore and Rob Ashford's stage adaptation of the Oscar-winning movie entitled simply Shrek the Musical (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane) does at least have a likeable mixture of wit and humanity.

We first encounter our unlikely hero – that grotesque green giant Shrek and his loyal friend Donkey as they are about to set off on a quest to rescue the spirited, if slightly temperamental, Princess Fiona from her tower, guarded by a fire-breathing, lovesick dragon. But the villainous dwarf Lord Farquaad is out to get her for himself as he hopes to achieve kingliness by marrying Fiona, even though he can't look her squarely in the eyer, and will stop at nothing to get his way.

This is a jaunty, well crafted show combing adventure, comedy and pathos, whose engaging protagonist is thrown out into a world that hates him. “A big bright world, where every dream comes true but not for you”, his parents sing. David Lindsay-Adaire's book and lyrics have a lively sense of mischief about them but Jeanine Tesori's score is unmemorable, lacking anything to match its closing song – a Neil Diamond oldie.

Nevertheless, there are many scenes to savour – the use of fairytale characters who set up as squatters in Shrek's swamp is deliciously funny, while the chorus line of tap dancing rats is truly inspired, as is the spectacular moment when an enormous purple dragon flies over the heads of the audience.

Tim Hatley's sets are ingenious, employing enlarged children's storybook cut-outs to introduce the characters and get the show off to a fine start.

Nigel Lindsay, with his human face and trumpet ears, makes a most affable and poignant Shrek, proving that appearances can be deceptive. Richard Blackwood's Donkey, though, lacks the charisma that Eddie Murphy brought to the film, and while Amanda Holden has undeniable poise, she is rather soulless as the Princess who isn't quite what she seems. However, Nigel Harman, sporting hilarious prosthetic legs and scuttling around the stage on his knees, doing a great comic turn, comes close to stealing the show as the self-regarding Lord Farquaad.

Box Office: 0844 871 8810

By Laurence Green

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Alexander Hay

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