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York
Shrek - A Lack-Lustre Ogre!
Phil Hopkins, Arts & Travel Editor
Laura Main as Princess Fiona and Steffan Harri as Shrek. Photos by Helen Maybanks
Regionally touring musicals often leave London with all the promise of an emerging débutante but, as so often happens, casts tire with the daily grind of their ‘job’ and, whilst it is easy for promoters to repeatedly promise caviar performances, they occasionally finish up serving a cheap cut of salmon!

And with ticket prices invariably upward of £40, there is little room for producers to feel too indignant if they are nit-picked by the regional Press as they collect their healthy box office receipts.

It is three years since I last watched Shrek the Musical and, whilst I genuinely believe this to be a wonderfully exuberant show, last night’s performance at Leeds Grand was, at times, a little lack-lustre and was only carried by a couple of sterling performances.

Marcus Ayton as Donkey
Idriss Kargbo set the bar high in 2015 as donkey and, whilst Marcus Ayton proved himself an excellent foil to Steffan Harri’s title role, he did not display the OTT physicality that Kargbo captured all that time ago.

Equally, I felt that Harri, as the green ogre Shrek, was at times, going through the motions as though he needed to get done so that he could get his head down! Three years ago, there was more cheeky Glaswegian and it took Samuel Holmes until Act II to pick up his performance as Lord Farquaad. Gerard Carey was a tough act to follow in 2015 and this character should have you crying with laughter; Carey did, Holmes didn’t.

Only a fantastic performance by Laura Main as Princess Fiona kept the performance bubbling along; she was a full 10% brighter and more dynamic than everyone around her.

The Fairytale cast
At its heart Shrek is a fairy-tale, albeit a whacky one, in which the likes of Pinocchio, Peter Pan, the Gingerbread man, and lots of others, are cast out of their kingdom as misfits. Shrek’s swamp is also threatened by megalomaniac Lord Farquaad, but the farting, burping jolly green ogre is given a glimmer of hope by Farquaad – rescue Princess Fiona from the dragon, bring her back to me and I’ll give you title to your swamp where you and the fairy-tale characters can live happily ever after.

Also by Phil Hopkins...
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Love, War, Death - Oh Vienna...
It is a show full of hidden meaning and somehow Brexit and Harry and Meghan got a mention, which is fine because Shrek has something of the Spamalot, cum panto cum Monty Python feel about it and whacky, off-the-wall works.

This is still a great, rumbustious show, full of colour and wonderful set backdrops, with cheeky humour for adults and lots of ‘obvious’ for the kids. It will continue to please but, for now, the cast need to down a couple of Red Bulls to ensure that they bring a little more sparkle to Shrek’s smelly swamp!

Until Sunday 6 January 2019, 7pm

Shrek - A Lack-Lustre Ogre!, 20th December 2018, 8:59 AM