Review by Carly Fisher
Swamplesque returns to the Adelaide Fringe after proving itself a smash hit last year and then as it toured the country - in fact, it was a friend who saw the show whilst they performed in Sydney that told me that this was one that I couldn’t miss…and so, I didn’t.
The opening legalities could not be a more perfect start to the spoof show. No, this is not your Dreamworks, kid friendly version of Shrek, and definitely no, this is not endorsed by them. What you have instead is an exceptionally clever team that has considered the fact that the Shrek cult following audience has grown up since the 2001 comedic animated film was released and is ready to go on a new Swamp journey. This is definitely an adult’s only Burlesque performance. but it is one accompanied by an entire tentful of keen audience ready to shout out every single line from the original film. Laced with chart topping songs throughout (think Pinocchio singing Beyonce’s ‘If I were a Boy’), the show manages to cover the entire Shrek plot in just an hour and its pace is one of the show’s major assets.
For me, it was the costumes that really impressed - here Solar Flair as Wardrobe Manager has truly excelled. Nods to the original characters that we know and fell in love with, mixed with a spicy Burlesque twist, the execution of the costumes certainly elevates the production value of this Fringe performance. I particularly loved the Dragon and Donkey costumes - so clever!
Creator/Director Ben Trigger doubles as Trigger Happy who takes on the titular role of Shrek. Trigger Happy proves themselves an exciting, dynamic performer and an excellent dancer - the number of high kicks executed were not lost on this reviewer! Flirty, naughty and downright entertaining, Trigger Happy knows how to work a crowd and as such, had the large audience in the palm of their hands from first entrance through to curtain call. As creator, Ben has much to be proud of here - he has tapped into a true niche and found huge support for it, deservedly so.
Bebe Gunn was a personal favourite for me as the Dragon. A perfect mix of sexy and humorous, Bebe too knew how to work that room! Returning for the finale adorned with sunglasses and a vape (a little nod to the fiery smoke of Dragon) was such a win for me - I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for Bebe’s solo shows as well!
As the only cast member to grab a mic and belt out a song, Selin Tann was a certain stand out - my only wish was that it was more than one song that we got from Tann! What a voice! As Princess Fiona she was sweet and definitely proved her talents - I’d love to see more from her in another show!
I’ll finish the individual shout outs with a mention of Rainbow as Lord Farquaad. To say that Rainbow was a crowd pleaser would be an enormous understatement as they comfortably garnered the biggest laughs and cheers of the night. The character commitment was what really made Rainbow stand out for me - the facial expressions Rainbow used were simply hilarious!
As a whole the cast’s commitment to characterisation, to comedy and to the raunchiness of Burlesque was admirable and certainly made for great late night entertainment.
I won’t lie, I found the same strip tease arc in almost every performance number a little repetitive for a one hour show so I definitely appreciated when it was broken up with a song or dance or just comedic act - it kept the pace of the piece and gave more opportunities to show off the fabulous talents of the team.
All round, I can definitely see why this night in the Swamp has had such a positive response since it debuted - it plays on everything that audiences love - nostalgia, comedy, sexiness and a showcase of great talent.