Theatre review - Shrek the Musical, The Lowry, Salford

Fiona and Shrek share a moment...with Donkey

Fiona and Shrek share a moment...with Donkey - Credit: Archant

I had the joy of taking two nine-year old boys to see Shrek the Musical at The Lowry, Salford, last night and it was an experience that had them in stitches, writes Kate Houghton.

Farquad makes his presence felt

Farquad makes his presence felt - Credit: Archant

As you can imagine, there are plenty of fart jokes in this stage version of the much-loved DreamWorks animation, which revolt and entertain in equal measure. There’s even one scene where an entire musical number is performed through the medium of wind, but, as Shrek says: ‘Better out than in.’ This scene in particular had my boys rolling in the aisle and I was somewhat dreading the return car journey home, but thankfully there was too much else for them to talk about, including the wonderful Farquad and his diddy yellow legs.

For me, Farquad, played magnificently by Gerard Carey, stole the show and I wouldn’t have complained had there been any number more scenes with him at centre stage. He’s possibly the musical theatre’s equivalent of Alan Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham – nastily camp, outrageously demanding and hilariously villainous. Performed almost entirely on his knees, with tiny little yellow legs attached to his doublet, Carey’s Farquad sings, dances, weight-lifts and hams his way through each of his scenes, reducing adult audience members to tears of laughter with jokes (verbal and physical) that pass straight over our children’s heads.

Fiona dances with rats, in Shrek The Musical at the Lowry

Fiona dances with rats, in Shrek The Musical at the Lowry - Credit: Archant

Shrek himself (played by Dean Chisnall) is suitably huge, green, grumpy but loveable. He stomps, shouts and sings with passion and joy and does just what you hope he’ll do.

Macclesfield’s Bronté Barbé plays Princess Fiona and is clearly a talented singer and actress, with excellent comedic timing. Unfortunately someone has decided to saddle her with an American accent, so she comes across more New York Jewish Princess than Fairytale Princess, which is both irritating and detracts from the actual content of what she is saying and singing, which is a great shame as she has some great line and a truly powerful and lovely voice. Please …. dump the accent and let the girl play to her strengths! We’re British, what do we want with Yank royalty?!

Finally, we can’t leave without a round of applause for the fabulous Donkey, played by Idriss Kargbo, who bounces around the stage as if on rocket fuel, doing everything any lover of the original animation could desire.

There are some truly bonkers moments in this show, from Fiona’s tap dance with rats to the cow jumping (been thrown) over the moon to Farquad’s work out scene and the arrival of his father, a perfect close to his earlier tale of a dysfunctional childhood.

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Go, but take the kids, it’s definitely one for the family and much joy will be obtained by watching them rather than the stage…unless, that is, Farquad is on, for, as he says: ‘Nobody puts Farquad in the corner.’

Shrek – The Musical

Until 20 February