Shrek The Musical
09/08/2018 at 7.30pm
Shrek The Musical was an absolute hit with its young audience last night. David Lindsay-Abaire’s book ambled alongside the story we’ve seen in the original Dreamworks animation. All the characters children know, love and love-to-hate were present and correct with their usual attitudes and witticisms. It was not a bad stage recreation of the movie, though the songs were instantly forgettable, giving it an overall feeling of posh pantomime.
There were some great moments along the way, most notably Welcome to Duloc and Freak Flag. Samuel Holmes’ Lord Farquaad was a suitably funny performance from an actor with a long reputation for funny. Lucinda Shaw’s Dragon was epic, as was the puppetry creating the character. And, we did love Marcus Ayton’s classy, funny Donkey. Best moment of the show for us was the ensemble of fairy tale characters in Freak Flag. It was the song most closely representing a real musical theatre number.
The show is definitely working for the 4 – 11 years, but doesn’t really work past that. Not unless you appreciate toilet humour or are a big fan of the movie.
Being totally honest, I wasn’t keen on lyrical references such as a ‘bit bipolar’. And, I spent a couple of songs deciding whether in 2018, we should have an actor on their knees being a short person. I decided it was fine within the context of ‘elves’ but it became problematic again at the end with references to the Seven Dwarfs.
My eleven year old son was quite upset at the end of the show, surprising as he had enjoyed the first act. He said it was unfair for actors (Three Blind Mice) to act having a disability on stage in place of visually impaired actors. In addition to this, he was furious they’d used a white cane as a dance prop. I can understand his upset because he’d faced bullying issues at school for using a disability aid. He’d independently given a good definition of ‘cripping up’ and one that I felt deserved to be heard within the context of review.
Whilst these niggles might seem small in the face of what had been a highly entertaining evening for most, they are problematic as they just feed into the way disabled people are viewed and treated within society as a whole. The song Freak Flag seemed an important way of reclaiming these things back – though I suspect completely by accident.
It wasn’t a badly crafted show and the cast were very good. I realised during the particularly grim fart off and surrounded by a pantomime matinee level of decorum from the audience that we definitely weren’t the musical’s target audience.
Shrek the Musical is at the Bristol Hippodrome until Sunday 19August 2018. It’s ideal for families looking to do something during the sudden rainy stretch of the summer holidays.
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