REVIEW: Louth Playgoers' Shrek brings swamp silliness

There’s a dragon running riot in Louth, along with a flatulent ogre and wise-cracking donkey!

The cast of Shrek the Musical.

After a pause of more than two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Louth Playgoers are back with their hit family musical – Shrek, co-directed by Jamie Harris and Vanessa Alisson.

I went along to see a special sneak preview of the Playgoers’ offering before the show opens on Tuesday, and boy did they deliver!

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In the titular role – with the three leads double cast as a precaution against any illness or Covid-related absences – was Ben Gilbert and he perfectly captured the antisocial and isolated ogre, with a cracking singing voice to boot.

Princess Fiona as a child, teen and adult.

The jolly japes of Donkey will definitely have the audiences sniggering, and Derek Smith was absolutely delightful as the over-enthusiastic ass, a perfect compliment to Shrek’s grumpiness.

Princess Fiona was played perfectly by Kennedy Gardiner, who not only has a wonderful singing voice but also had wonderful chemistry with her erstwhile rescuers.

A special shout-out has to go to James Clark as the dastardly Lord Farquaad, who did a fantastic job of shuffling around on his knees to pay the ‘diminutively-statured’ villain, while still delivering a wickedly-sinister performance not dissimilar to Johnathan Groff’s turn as George III in the smash-hit Broadway show Hamilton.

This is definitely a show for all the family, with enough fart and burp jokes to make children laugh out loud and double entendres to make adults smirk.

Lord Farquaad (James Clark).

There wasn’t a single weak performance among the rest of the cast, with some fantastic dancing and singing numbers.

Making it even more special was the use of a live orchestra for the musical numbers, which made it feel even more professional.

The last time I saw a production so well-performed and slick was on London’s West End, it was honestly that good, and the sheer talent of the cast alone makes it worth going to see, and for just £12.50 for adults and £8 for children, a fraction of the cost of a city show.

The production runs from Tuesday May 10 to Saturday May 21, with matinee performances at 2.30pm on both Saturdays.

Shrek ( Ben Gilbert) and Princess Fiona (Kennedy Gardiner).

For more information, see page 21 of this week’s edition.

The cast of Shrek the Musical