REVIEW: Ogre-joyed at cartoon’s capers brought to life

Dean Chisnall as Shrek and Idriss Kargbo as Donkey in Shrek The Musical
Dean Chisnall as Shrek and Idriss Kargbo as Donkey in Shrek The Musical
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In a world where looks are everything, Shrek The Musical delivers a refreshingly fresh message – it’s keen to be green.

Based on the 2001 DreamWorks movie, Shrek is the stinky ogre bribed to rescue a beautiful princess for a diminutive lord with regal pretensions.

The show, at Manchester’s Palace Theatre until January 11, packs a visual punch as powerful as the orge’s breath, bringing to life the fairytale realm of Duloc and Shrek’s swamp as the audience steps right inside the storybook.

Dean Chisnall and Faye Brookes, as Shrek and Princess Fiona, have a delightful chemistry and sensational voices, setting a superb standard for the full company.

Brookes especially revels in breaking the convention of leading lady perfection, with a brilliantly quirky portrayal.

And Gerard Carey’s Lord Farquaad is quite simply hilarious, thanks in part to clever costumes and genius choreography. In fact there’s not a weak musical number in the whole show, directed by ex-Eastender Nigel Harman, who created that role in the West End.

Idriss Kargbo has the comic legend Eddie Murphy to live up to as ‘noble steed’ Donkey, and perhaps falls a little short of these sky high expectations, although his number with the flirty Dragon, a powerhouse vocal from Candace Furbert, is an absolute treat.

An energetic ensemble of colourful children’s characters encourage you to fly your ‘Freak Flag’ high in one song, reinforcing the positive moral message which is cleverly cloaked in comedy throughout.

From in-your-face toilet humour for the kids to more delicate, innuendo for the adults, you’re sure to be laughing out loud all night, and for musical theatre fans there are fantastic references to other shows.

I’m in love, I’m A Believer... in happy ever afters and the magic of a must-see musical that offers a slightly more grown-up take on panto.