The cast of the 2024 Shrek UK tour - Photo courtesy Norwich Theatre

Donkeeeey! The ass is back, and so are Shrek and Princess Fiona in this fun family musical based on the 2001 film that proved it’s not easy being green.

The theatrical version debuted in 2008 and keeps to the spirit of the film, layering smart humour over fart jokes to ensure it appeals to both adults and children, which certainly seemed the case for the packed-out audience at Norwich’s Theatre Royal.

Brandon Lee Sears dominates as Donkey, with exuberant physical comedy and exquisite timing, with a strong performance on opening night from Imogen Bailey as Princess Fiona. She gives a charming performance, with vocal prowess that deserves a permanent principal role – only rivalled for best pipes by Georgie Buckland as Gingy.

James Gillan is commendably camp as Lord Farquaad; from the hair flicks to the gold hot pants, he mixes evil and ineffectual in equal parts to make a thoroughly entertaining villain.

The cast of the 2024 Shrek UK tour - Photo courtesy Norwich Theatre

Ostensibly the lead, Antony Lawrence is a little underwhelming as Shrek. While the character is quite sulky, Lawrence plays him a little too straight so we get quite a neutral performance for much of the show, only really showing life in the second act.

It’s great to have a seven-piece live band backing the show, with Sally MacTagart’s clarinet particularly bringing some gorgeous tone to the score.

This production makes good use of projection to keep the action moving along while not forgetting the benefits of physical sets in grounding the actors, with clever use of lighting reveals to bridge the two.

It’s a funny, charming, and thoroughly enjoyable show.

Shrek may be an ogre but audiences should be running towards this production – remaining tickets are limited but for a fun family night out, grab them if you can.

  • Shrek continues at Norwich Theatre Royal until Saturday, March 30, 2024, then continues on its UK tour.