As we mill about outside the Hippodrome, cheesy ogre themed theatrical anthems filling St Augustine’s Parade with a sense of childish wonder, the anticipation of the crowd could have been cut with Pinocchio’s nose. As we enter we are immediately aware of Hatley’s set designing prowess. Leaf-like lighted reflections immerse not only the stage but the boxes and grand upper circle in a forest like image, the stage itself donned in an impressive wood like scene, surely fit for any fairytale production.
As the show, we immediately find ourselves questioning DreamWorks as our protagonist presents us with the story of his childhood, Chisnall (Shrek) effortlessly conveying an emotive speech depicting how his parents had left him to fend for himself at the youthful age of 7. Aside from the melancholic persona of our hero, the humour of the musical soon shows us why this production is not just aimed at children, as we are introduced to the villain, Lord Farquaad. Contrary to the DreamWorks portrayal of our villain, Carey (Farquaad) after a mere 5 minutes into his introduction is easily already my favourite character and the only comedic value throughout the production.
We know from the film that Farquaad is rather small in stature. However, the costume design team have not failed to impress with a devised costume that could only be considered comedic genius. As Carey emerges the audience notice that his legs are moving in a disjointed motion. It suddenly hits us that Carey is actually crawling around the stage with material legs that have obviously been pinned to his thigh area in order to create the correct height ratio. No one is able to take him seriously when they’re all focusing on the hilarious manner in which his ‘legs’ are flailing about.
Anyone who has seen the film will know that any musical number other than ‘I’m a Believer’ is rather of a limited courtesy. However, the musical lives up to its nature and we are faced with a number at least every 10 minutes. One number that did seem completely unnecessary was ‘I Got You Beat’ in which Shrek and Fiona rant on and on to each other about how their upbringing was worse than the other’s.
This is all well and good, and there’s actually a rather catchy tune to go along with the lyrics, but then, out of nowhere, we are made to sit through a 5 minute ‘farting’ contest. I’d consider myself to be quite childish, but even after the 30 seconds I spent giggling to myself it seemed to become rather juvenile. Although the younger spectators in the crowd seemed to love it, there was a collective of rolled eyes and shrugs throughout the audience.
Overall, although some of the character depiction and set choices proved to be a huge success, the musical itself didn’t seem to be much more than a standard family night out; definitely not worthy of a serious west end production or its 5 star reviews.
By Ruby Cross