Shrek the Musical is a fun adaption of the smash-hit animated film full of laughs, strong performances and a celebration of our differences. 

The latest big touring show to hit the Bristol Hippodrome, just down the M4 from Swindon, was a real hoot. 

The production value for the show is very high, the staging is a combination of practical effects and a projected screen that unfolds the narrative with a storybook. The cast of fairytale creatures are created through a combination of costumes and, in the case of the Gingerbread Man and the Dragon, puppetry. 

All of the performers involved, including West End star Antony Lawrence as Shrek, Strictly's Joanne Clifton as Princess Fiona and theatre-favourite Brandon Lee Sears as Donkey, shine throughout. 

It's at its best when it's focussing on the tried and tested story that we all know and love but also when it embraces the medium of theatre.

For example, there are some pantomime-esque local references and topical jokes, mainly from Donkey, that are distracting but strangely work. There are also hilarious nods to other hit musicals and other meta moments like Fiona throwing a bird prop off of the stage. 

This Is Wiltshire: Donkey, Shrek and Fiona in the stage musical of the film Photo Credit Marc BrennerDonkey, Shrek and Fiona in the stage musical of the film Photo Credit Marc Brenner (Image: King's Theatre)

Lawrence and Clifton are great together as the ogre and princess slowly falling in love. Both have super voices, but it was the characterisations that stood out, with one fart-filled sequence leaving the children in the audience howling with laughter. 

It's also strong whenever the show's eclectic and diverse cast of 'freaks' are onstage. The song 'Let Your Freak Flag Fly' is a particular highlight.

There was an interesting quibble with the decision to adjust Lord Farquaad's character to no longer be comically small, which dampened a lot of the writing of his character. 

Songs like 'Things Are Looking Up Here In Duloc' and 'The Ballad of Farquaad' are both specifically written to be funny when performed by an actor who is on his knees, and a lot of the ingenuity of a previous version of the show I had seen revolved around stage trickery in making Farquaad small. 

I fully understand why he was changed, although there's an argument that the current hyper-flamboyant character he is now is just as offensive, but I feel that perhaps the overall needs a small rewrite to get around this. 

Ultimately, there's a lot of fun to be had here and the show has a super positive message about embracing the messier parts of being alive and celebrating our differences that the whole family can enjoy! 

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