Aren't we supposed to hate Lord Farquaad? If memory serves us right, DreamWorks' Shrek presented us with a hideous little narcissist (emphasis on the 'little'), desperate to marry the enchanting Princess Fiona so that he could finally be King of Duloc.
We don't recall a brilliant funny man, whose facial expressions alone are worth the ticket price. Ah, but the beauty of adapting a well-loved animated film for the stage is that the actors get to play cartoons for the evening, with the villains often hamming it up and stealing the show. And that's exactly what happens here.
Shrek The Musical, a jazz-hands-and-all rendition of our favourite alternative fairy-tale certainly has its fun. We're no longer rooting for the titular ogre, but instead, counting down the minutes until Gerard Carey's Farquaad returns to the stage.
The performer spends most of the show dancing on his knees, an hilarious set of fake, skinny legs flailing about the place. It's pantomime gold, and Carey clearly has a blast with the role.
A marvellously-executed piece of musical theatre, with splendid costumes (we love Pinocchio), decent special effects (yes, the dragon and the gingerbread man make an appearance) and an amiable songbook, Shrek The Musical shoots straight for Wicked territory, combining just the right amount of seasoned wit and charm to keep the adults happy, whilst embracing its silliness for the little ones.
You know the drill. An ogre named Shrek (Dean Chisnall), is forced to befriend a talking donkey (the exuberant Idriss Kargbo) and rescue a troubled princess (Farquaad's future bride, played by Faye Brookes) from a faraway castle so that he can reclaim his swamp from a noisy line-up of fairy-tale lodgers (a grumpy Farquaad sent them packing from Duloc). Along the way, Shrek falls for Princess Fiona, and a dark secret threatens to unravel everyone's plans.
The dialogue is superb. It might not deliver all of its lines quite as well as the film (Kargbo takes on the heavy task of trying to make us forget the name Eddie Murphy), but through fabulous song-and-dance routines, the production gets one over on anyone who thought they might have seen it all when it comes to the big green guy. And keep an eye on that road-trip skit. Who'd have thought a cow jumping over the moon could be so funny, eh? Ridiculously entertaining.
Running until November 9