Bring together the spirit of Dita Von Teese, Ru Paul’s Drag Race and a beloved cast of fairy tale creatures from an iconic 2001 Dreamworks film, and what do you get?
The brainchild of Ben Trigger (AKA Trigger Happy) of America’s Got Talent fame, Shreklesque is a stripped-back burlesque parody of the series’ first movie.
Held in the vast auditorium of Gluttony’s Flamingo tent, the show successively introduces the main cast of Shrek (Trigger Happy), Donkey (Henny Spaghetti), Lord Farquaad (Rainbow), Fiona (Selin Tian) and Dragon (Bebe Gunn), alongside cameos of infamous supporting characters including Pinocchio (Barbie Bank) the Gingerbread Man (Tugboat Tiffy), and Magic Mirror (Baron Von Envy).
Driving our story along are lip-synched montages of audio clips drawn from the film, each scene played out by the cast with the energy of John Waters’ early cult comedies. Coupled with these is many-a-striptease sequence set to songs featured in the film alongside others not so, with each also lip-synched, save for a powerhouse rendition of Queen’s Somebody To Love by Selin Tian’s Fiona. Nods to the Shrek fandom also show up including the beloved 2010 video, Shrek Is Love, Shrek Is Life (much to the glee of this author), and quips from Ru Paul’s Drag Race abound.
Standout moments include the lip-quivering entrance of Bebe Gunn’s Dragon, Gingy’s milk-drenched reveal and Farquaad’s Divine-like rendition of ‘Macho Man’. Costumes and accessories are all immaculately produced, right down to the themed tassels revealed by Farquaad (astutely regal) and Gingy (not the gumdrop buttons!).
While the first half of the show maintained energy and narrative flow, the latter half felt more lacklustre in its significant departure from the story. Jumping from the tower scene to the wedding scene in rapid succession induces a little whiplash, the nuptials only last a brief moment before making way for the karaoke sequence that ends the film. While burlesque is most often happy at home in the revue format, the absence of the expected narrative build-up was more than a little unsatiating. Perhaps some earlier choreographic sequences could be trimmed to provide important eleventh-hour connective tissue – then we might all happily say “it’s all ogre now”.
Despite these shortcomings, Shreklesque makes for a fun-loving, nostalgic night out!
Reviewed on 20 Feb 2022.