It is hard to find a living breathing human in this world who does not love or at least like Shrek - correct me if I'm wrong- So the idea of the musical version coming to the west end was exciting news to me I must admit. I booked the tickets with mindless optimism even after knowing it had only survived for a rather disappointing 12 months on Broadway after receiving some rather Luke warm reviews.
Entering the Royal Drury lane I sensed that those around me were just as excited, some sporting ogre eared headbands and others having their picture taken with the giant sparking green S in the foyer. Now I am sure you have prepared yourself to read yet another cruel and heartless review..you would be correct, however I will start with the positives so not to be so spineless.
The set itself was flawless, the set and costume designers must have had a field day creating this fairy tale land , it really did feel as if we were seeing a carbon copy of the movie. The costumes were exact replicas of those in the original DreamWorks film and were dazzling under all of the stage lights. Some great puppetry work can also be seen; puppeteers who had spent months on recreating the dragon from the movie did so with great success as, again, it looked exactly like the dragon from the film. I was also pleasantly surprised by the performance of Amanda Holden who played Princess Fiona, her tom boyish wit mixed with her longing princess charm echoed that of Diaz's performance in the film. At times her American accent was a bit shaky, but generally quite impressive as well as some surprisingly good dancing and singing skills- which received copious amounts of applause from the audience.
I’m sure I will be spurned for saying this by those who I went to see the performance with but I really didn’t think Nigel Harman’s performance of Lord Farquaad was that amusing. He had the comic aid of two miniature puppet legs while he was bending on his knees performing- but this (in my opinion) was his only saving grace and I was not that amused , although every other audience member seemed to find this explosively funny. His performance did not quite match up to the evil genius of John Lithgow’s interpretation. But that was the very problem with the entire production, the cast were under a lot of pressure in recreating the epic characters of the DreamWorks film- posing the question, how necessary was it for the musical to be made- if we want to watch true shrekiful perfection we would just pop on the DVD.
The songs in the musical were far from awe inspiring and were definitely not memorable , with lyrics like 'Salisbury steak you, I’ll frosted flake you, I’ll patty cake you, My donkey pot pie' I think you get the idea and no more needs to be said on the matter.
Shrek and Donkey- now really I am leaving the worst to last- but how could anyone live up to the standards created by comic masters Eddie Murphy and Mike Myers?? Richard Blackwood’s donkey really did fall short, his performance was flat and all together quite boring to watch- he sounded more like an unenthusiastic will smith than a rib crackingly hilarious Murphy. This for me was the most disappointing element of all, I am a huge donkey fan - he is the reason I absolutely love shrek, but Blackwood seemed to throw all the comic lines away and his scenes with Shrek (which are comic gold in the film) bought down the whole performance and generally left a sour taste in my mouth. Shrek (Nigel Lindsay) at times was quite comical, and his scottish accent was average- but it really felt like he had other places to be , he showed no enthusiasm of the character at all, again another case of a flat performance- he was a showstopper, but not in the positive sense of the word; when he was on stage alone the performance became so slow that it almost halted completely.
If you have less of a critical eye then me and enjoy sparkling lights and underperformed comedy the I implore you to book a ticket. But if you want the greatness of shrek to remained untainted then stay well away!!