The many fairytale characters who populate Shrek’s world are created through ingenious costumes and prosthetics: fat suits, extendable noses, talking gingerbread… Initially the prosthetics, especially for Shrek (Ben Mingay) threaten to get in the way of real emotions, with the first act stodgy at times. However, Mingay’s performance shines through as Shrek’s character develops and in the second act the pace picks up.
Ben Mingay and Nat Jobe (Donkey) make a likeable duo, but the plum roles fall to Todd McKenney as Lord Farquaard and Lucy Durack as Princess Fiona. McKenney is a glorious pantomime villain and virtuoso knee-dancer, while Durack flounces and pouts and bounces off Shrek with assured comic timing and sassy charm, which makes you almost forget how good a singer she is.
Ultimately though, nothing – not even tap dancing rats and the Shrek-Fiona fart-off – can compete with the show-stopping power of the dragon who guards Princess Fiona’s tower. This magnificent puppet is operated by four puppeteers and given voice by Marcia Hines, soaring and roaring across the theatre. She’s still got it, and a bonus appearance in the finale brings the audience to its feet for the best tune in the show.
Shrek the Musical runs until February 9