An auditorium awash with woodland green, adults and children sporting their own Shrek ears and excited anticipation in the air for the forthcoming, magical, musical experience. This is what you will find when entering the theatre, pre Shrek performance.
The majority know the story of Shrek following the hype around the film that was released in 2001. It is a family favourite, suitable for kids, with lots of comedy moments and some references that only the adults will understand. The fairytale like plot follows Shrek (Steffan Harri) the ogre on a mission to rescue Princess Fiona (Laura Main) and deliver her to Lord Farquaad (Samuel Holmes) for marriage. However, along the way Shrek falls in love with Princess Fiona and things become interesting when it is revealed that she is actually also an ogre…
Harri plays the part of Shrek well, inviting you as an audience to be able to understand and empathise with his self-loathing of being a ‘freak’. His diction at times was not perfect and certain songs were hard to interpret but this could have been a technical issue. Playing the lead female role alongside Harri is Main as Princess Fiona; a fabulous voice and very skilled, most evidently during the song with puppets ‘I Know it’s Today’. However at times it felt this part was slightly over-acted.
A blow away performance comes from Holmes playing Lord Farquaad, an extremely comical character, spending the entire show on his knees to play a man restricted in height. He gets the most laughs and has gags aplenty. Another real star that must have a mention is Marcus Ayton, playing Donkey. A real competitor for the most charm and fun on stage, with a wonderful voice.
The cast has a really strong, large ensemble with some outstanding voices in there, a real pool of talent.
Some real standout moments in the show are the musical numbers Whats up Duloc which is led by Lord Farquaad and his men. Some real laughs during this number at Lord Farquaad sitting on his castle with his legs over the walls, orchestrating them in some hilarious ways. Another is the ensemble number Freak Flag lots of unbelievably strong voices in there.
The staging of this production is one of the main highlights, magically and visually inspiring. From walking in to the theatre and being met by the book on stage that almost fills the entire space, to the visual effects that are that realistic they leave you wondering if they are actually real. The costumes and puppets are a real treat, credit to Tim Hatley; Set, Costume and Puppet Design.