★★★★ | Shrek, National Tour 2015
Making the transition from screen to stage is not always easy, especially when you are adapting something as beloved as Shrek.
The tale of the big green ogre rescuing the fair princess on behalf of the diminutive Lord Fardquaad is one which follows the plot of the film fairly closely, albeit with so many songs crammed into the running time, the whole thing teeters on the edge of being a sing through musical.
Like the film, the stage show has a bit of something for everyone, with a script which is packed full of kid friendly comedy but with enough one liners and near the knuckle jokes to keep the adults more than entertained, nowhere more evident than in every second of stage time held by Lord Faquaad. Gerrard Carey was just outstanding as the vertically challenged monarch-to-be, and gave a deliciously camped up performance which was quite frankly hilarious. Look up the definition of “scene stealer” in any theatrical dictionary and you should find his picture. Dean Chisnall’s portrayal of the grumpy ogre was suitably downplayed, but his powerful voice was simply incredible as he belted out the songs.
But it wasn’t just the performances that made this show, it was the whole package. For a touring production, the staging was incredible, utilising a slew of techniques to bring the tale to life in a way which far exceeded expectations. The set was beautifully put together, lavish and detailed, the lighting was well designed and the costumes and make up were stunning. The show pads out the backstories of the main characters a little, but equally allows the supporting cast to all get their turn, and with such a strong line-up, it would have been criminal not to.
Where the show doesn’t quite peak is in the songs themselves.” I Got You Beat” was a neat take on the courting songs of Irving Berlin, “What’s Up, Duloc?” was an upbeat big production number and “Morning Person” was a Bob Fosse inspired tap dancing routine. When coupled with the visuals of the set, the choreography and the polished delivery, the actual numbers were are all perfectly amiable and got the feet tapping. However, they were ultimately pretty forgettable; and whilst they certainly work on stage, most audience members left the theatre singing the 1966 hit, “I’m A Believer”, rather than humming any of the shows original songs.
Shrek carries with it an air of childhood magic and a theatrical experience which, provided you allow yourself to buy into it, will transport you back to that feeling of being a kid again. It’s a show which is bold, loud, colourful and utterly charming. Whether it was giggling at the occasional spot of toilet humour, laughing at the jokes which go over the kids’ heads, or simply being transfixed by the spectacle of a dragon flying about the stage, Shrek had me smiling throughout the show.
Shrek is currently playing at the Sheffield Lyceum Theatre (www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk) until 6th June 2015 before continuing on its national tour at various venues throughout the country up to February 2016. Get yourself “ogre” to the tour’s website for full details (www.shrekthemusical.co.uk)