The Bohemians Lyric Theatre Company are an amateur outfit based in Edinburgh, and to have even contemplated taking on such a show as Shrek deserves a medal, but then a little research reveals that this company’s been going since 1909. Evidence there’s a fair reservoir of experience to hand is illustrated by the fact they regularly grace The Fringe on top of the yearly output which is… pretty staggering, some years including no less than three different shows.
As opening night’s go though, this couldn’t have started worse. Traces of nerves were discernible unaided by the fact the actors’ vocals were constantly at odds with the volume of the band, an issue which persisted but which one imagines will be resolved as the run proceeds. But 25 minutes (or so) in a crackling malfunction manifested itself between the on-stage mics and the PA and a halt had to be called while this was dealt with. Full credit was due to everyone for bashing on regardless; my 9-year-old hadn’t noticed anything, and they probably could have got away with it until the interval if they’d had to.
Other technical gripes might have warranted comment, for example, the fact that the spotlight missed half of Gingy’s mouth for the famous interrogation scene, but that would have been picky; the audience was being entertained and isn’t that the point?
Once the crackly cables/signals were rectified and the curtain was back up the entry of Lord Farquaard (Dominic Lewis) took proceedings up a notch and the rest of the show fell in step behind. Shrek (Andrew Gardiner) was exactly as you’d want Shrek to be, Fiona (Rachael Anderson) excelled in most scenes but even more so when interacting with some forest animals and the rest of the cast grew in confidence culminating in the ‘Freak Flag’ song underlining that fact it’s fine – possibly more important – to be different. Donkey (Alex Singh) was all vibrant energy, but one couldn’t help wincing at the accent and this role might’ve worked equally well with a more natural, caricatured English or Scots voice.
The performance ended with a standing ovation and what might be termed lost in ‘professional’ execution was more than made up for by the enthusiasm and ungoverned talent of the entire ‘amateur’ cast. Punk, DIY, or Indie theatre, whatever one wants to term it, this was a joyous expression by a team who aren’t in it for the money. Just beware the Big Bad Wolf.
Shrek continues until the 19th March at the King’s Theatre. https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/shrek-the-musical
Reviewer: Roger Jacobs
Reviewed: 16th March 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★