Theatre Review: Shrek the Musical - Edinburgh Playhouse ✭✭✭✭

 Review by Graeme Shield

Modern fairytale and global film franchise phenomenon Shrek transforms the Edinburgh Playhouse stage into a swamp for the gloriously silly Shrek The Musical.

For those of you who have been locked in a dungeon and haven’t seen the movie, Shrek The Musical is a faithful retelling of a grumpy ogre Shrek’s quest to save Princess Fiona for scheming Lord Farquaad. 
This unapologetically word-for-word recreation of the film is injected with a dash of musical theatre sparkle, adding in brilliant ensemble numbers while lacking in any memorable melodies to sing on the way home (other than the toe-tapping finale of “I’m A Believer!”).

Where the movie cleverly pastiches Disney, the show references Broadway behemoths Les Miserables and The Lion King, as well as blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nods to Chicago and Dreamgirls (and did I spot a reference to Gypsy?). Whereas Monty Python’s Spamalot uses the genre as a device to poke fun and satirise, Shrek The Musical nudges musical theatre lovingly without ever really veering from the story it’s trying to tell.

Dean Chisnall’s lovable Shrek was a perfect mix of grumpiness and warmth, while Idriss Kargbo creates a sassy (if sometimes unintelligible) Donkey. Completing the principal line up were Bronté Barbé’s feisty and lovable Princess Fiona and Gerard Casey’s hysterically funny Lord Farquaad. Although the height-based Farquaad gags are sometimes cheap, they are never anything less than hilarious. (I’m starting a campaign for his own ‘spin-off’ musical right here…Farquaad Of The Opera, anyone?)

They are ably supported by a huge array of colourful characters, most notably Pinocchio played by Will Haswell, Gingerbread Man played by Nikki Bentley and the gorgeous purple Dragon - brought to life by a team of skilled puppeteers and the incredible Candace Furbert – her vocals sent me to a kingdom far, far away.

Despite the lack of memorable tunesShrek The Musical combines a fantastic ensemble cast of recognisable characters, a mesmerizing spectacle (set, costume, special effects and puppetry are some of the best to come out of the West End on tour) with silliness to concoct a truly magical night out for all the family.

Shrek The Musical is playing at the Edinburgh Playhouse until Nov 8th. For more information or to book tickets, visit or call the Box Office on 0131 524 3301.