Lowry, Salford Quays
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past twenty years or so, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the runaway franchise that is Shrek. Originally an illustrated novel by William Steig, it became a hit animation for Dreamworks in 2001. It went on to spawn several (inferior) sequels and of course, in 2008, a Broadway musical. This is the original London production, which comes to the end of a two year tour in Salford, so this may be your last chance to see it for a while.
Obviously it’s a family show, aimed very much at the youngsters in the audience, but it’s slick and sharp enough to entrance their parents too and it was clear from the word go that the packed audience at the Lowry was having an absolute ball with it. The film’s wry twist on the classic fairy tale is faithfully preserved, there are eye-popping costumes and witty songs. You have to admire Dean Chisnall’s performance as the titular ogre as he performs in what looks like half a ton of latex without ever breaking stride. The supporting cast are uniformly good but I particularly enjoyed Gerard Carey’s tour de force as pint-sized villain Lord Farquaad. I’ve seen this kind of stunt done before but rarely with such exuberance and never with such laugh-out-loud chutzpah.
Fans of puppetry will be entranced by the show’s huge dragon, which swoops convincingly around the stage (whilst singing!) and had younger members of the audience gasping with wonder. Shrek – The Musical is a magical presentation in every respect and the long touring schedule means that every detail has been drilled to perfection, so despite a lengthy running time, it never loses momentum. Oh and don’t feel you have to have children in tow, because there really is something here for everyone.
Please note that the show starts at 7 pm, not 7.30 (a fact that was clearly lost on large members of last night’s audience). It’s at the Lowry until February 20th. Go, enjoy. Trust me, you’ll love it.