This spectacular fairy-tale musical romance tells the love-story we all want to hear: the one where a tendency to flatulence is as unimportant as good looks, says Katie Jarvis

Great British Life: Shrek the MusicalShrek the Musical (Image: Marc Brenner)‘What are we going to see again?’ asks Ian, who has been working all day and can’t multi-task. (Or, sometimes, task.)

‘Think: dubious-looking man with very green tinge,’ I say, ‘on the pull all night for a girl… Oh, and think: equine with very specific talents.’

Ian’s face falls.

‘You’re absolutely right,’ he says. ‘Cheltenham Races. We need to leave early to find a parking space.’

Great British Life: Shrek the MusicalShrek the Musical (Image: Marc Brenner)SHREK. Who doesn’t admire a man who loves his greens, and a very sassy ass. We all fell head-over with the DreamWorks movie franchise about an ogre (dictionary definition: man- (or woman-) eating giant; certainly never a good look on dating apps) wanting to find his place, and his girl, in the world.

And now it’s a stage musical.

A musical, moreover, with such razzmatazz, vigour and heart. It’s loud; it’s gymnastic; it’s funny and moving, and dazzlingly spectacular.

A story filled with metaphor about the cruelties of life and – particularly if you’re a man- (or woman-) eating giant – practical tips for overcoming them.

So here’s the action. Shrek, the seven-year-old ogre, is sent out into the world by his parents, to live by himself in a swamp of his own choosing. (I realise that introducing family court proceedings at this early stage might slow the action, but, honestly: surely Fairy Tale social services should have been alerted?)

Great British Life: Shrek the MusicalShrek the Musical (Image: Marc Brenner)Unbeknownst to him, in a tower relatively far away, guarded by a (not-unattractive) dragon, another seven-year-old – Princess Fiona – has been sent to live on her own, also condemned to a life of solitude. (Tiger parents, hey.) A princess who has her own secret ogre-tendencies.

As they grow up, both dream of love. True love that, as all children understand, involves far more flatulence than most adults are initially prepared to admit.

A love that is blind to outer hideousness (yes, Cheltenham Race-goers I came across while walking to the theatre: some of you do stand a chance); and open to kindness, humour and courage.

And friendship, too. When times are hard, you don’t look a talking gift-donkey in the mouth.

The magic of this production is utterly brought to life by the extraordinary staging, where the set becomes the unfurling pages of a fairy-tale book; it’s immersive; transportive; beautiful.

The cast, too, embodies our every imagining of these favoured characters: Antony Lawrence as heart-warming Shrek; Joanne Clifton, feisty Fiona; and the hilarious Brandon Lee Sears as Donkey.

Great British Life: Shrek the MusicalShrek the Musical (Image: Marc Brenner)Why Fiona didn’t want to wed Lord Farquaad (for the ‘a’s in his name alone), I cannot imagine. I fell for him big-time, played (by James Gillan) as that winning mix of Alan Carr, Simon Cowell and Richard III. (Why is it so hard to find that in a man?)

Cherece Richards deserves a big hand as the dragon/witch (along with the puppeteers, who brought it all to life. Amazing).

Big shout-out, too, to the incredibly talented band who played the fairy-tale mob persecuted by Lord Farquaad as takes-one-to-know-one freaks.

My one question would be: this is a musical. The orchestra was fab. But would there be any song – just one even – that you’d leave singing? (The litmus test, for me.) I’m not sure I’d recognise one if it hit me in the face. Except, of course, for the final number: the Sixties hit, I’m A Believer. Not only summed up the story – but pretty much all of us (a multi-generational audience to boot) disappeared into the night with it still on our lips.

Everyman Cheltenham, Regent Street, Cheltenham GL50 1HQ;