Review: Shrek the Musical
Ogre makes smooth transition from screen to stage
It’s not unheard of for a baddy to outshine a goody on stage. But rarely do they get the audience so on-side that it’s actually disappointing when their come-uppance finally arrives.
So good, however, is Gerard Carey’s performance as loathsome, egotistical monarch Lord Farquaad that, when he succumbs to the fiery chops of the lady dragon, you can almost feel the crowd wanting to pull him back out.
Ordinarily, speaking of a show’s ending in a review would be unthinkable – but find me an audience member of Shrek the Musical who hasn’t seen the original 2001 film, and I’ll apologise to them personally.
We’re all there because we love the film, for many different reasons: the wit, the pathos, the tender recognition that beauty is in the eye of the beholder – and, of course, Mike Myers' endearingly bad Scottish accent.
Much the same can be said of the stage version which, despite being a straightforward re-telling of the film, is very much its own beast. The addition of 17 cracking musical theatre songs, all of which drive the narrative along and are skilfully delivered by a talented cast, is the most obvious addition.
The aforementioned Carey gives a hilarious, crowd-pleasing performance as the vertically-challenged Farquaad. And, on the night I saw it, understudy Nikki Bentley played Princess Fiona with real spirit and verve.
But there are also clever touches that tap in perfectly to the film’s tongue-in-cheek approach to fairytales – in particular the ‘spot the musical reference’ game we’re all invited to play (nods to Wicked, The Lion King, Les Miserables to name but some).
Shrek the film is so well-loved, producers of the live show knew they had to stay true to the atmosphere of friendly anarchy, clever dialogue and true love – and they do just that. By the end (a rousing rendition of ‘I’m a Believer’ – what else?) there’s so much happiness in the room, onstage and off, Shrek and Fiona’s swamp is the only joint in town.
Reviewed at King's Theatre, Glasgow.