Shrek The Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse, review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Dreamworks Theatricals
David Lindsay-Abaire (book and lyrics), Jeanine Tesori (music), Nigel Harman (tour director), Tim Hatley (set and costume design), Hugh Vanstone and Matt Daw (lighting design), Avgoustos Psillas and Terry Jardine (sound design).
Dean Chisnall (Shrek), Bronte Barbe (Fiona), Gerard Carey (Lord Farquaad), Idriss Kargbo (Donkey), Laura Baldwin, Nikki Bentley, Jennifer Caldwell, Candace Furbert, Will Haswell, Keith Henderson, Will Jennings, Iain Mattley, Christina Modestou, Sam Murphy, Amy Oxley, Ryan Reid, Jake Small, Dawn Williams, Kevin Yates (various roles), Charlotte Langan, Grace McConville, Lucie McCutcheon, Mia Verth (Young Shrek, Young Fiona, Dwarf).
Running time

Shrek The Musical ticks all the obvious boxes for family-cum-light entertainment but ultimately lacks soul.

On screen, Shrek was both a commercial and critical success with a wide-reaching appeal. The audience for this musical stage adaptation reflected this, with mums and dads, teenagers and those yet to reach double figures, all crowding through the doors of the Playhouse, buzzing with anticipation. They were not disappointed, but perhaps deserved more.

Aside from providing a bit of a back-story for the main characters – Lord Farquaad’s being the most significant, but no spoilers here – the action on stage faithfully replicates the movie, virtually scene by scene, with the addition of a lot of songs. The format runs as follows: roughly three minutes of dialogue is followed by three minutes of singing, repeated ten times in each act, and that’s that. At times it feels as though it’s this formula, rather than the plot, that is the main driving force.

There is, however, much to enjoy. There are lots of jokes – although one or two become tired after too much repetition - and there are some fine performances, in particular Gerard Carey as Lord Farquaad who completely steals the show. Every member of the cast is full of energy and really gives it their all, and the calibre of singing is top-notch – it’s just unfortunate that they don’t have better songs to sing. In the final analysis, it is the utter mediocrity of the tunes and lyrics that lets the side down.

All the favourite fairy-tale characters are here in full-on costumes and on the whole there’s an upbeat, unseasonal panto feel that is a lot of fun - if that’s the sort of thing you’re after. The audience laughed a lot, clapped a lot, joined in at all the right moments and cheered at the end. If you end up being dragged there by your kids, they probably won’t regret it.

20th October – 8th November