Theatre Royal, Nottingham
Runs: 2h 10m: one interval: till 30 March
A Carry On film meets Fawlty Towers.
Benidorm Live is a stage offshoot of the award-winning ITV sitcom last seen in 2018. Judging by the response from the packed house on press-night, writer Derren Litten has made the stage version every bit as funny as the original.
But someone coming to this a tad out of touch with the small screen might initially be puzzled. It all seems so old-fashioned and un-sophisticated, even at times like one of those wireless comedies of the forties – think ITMA. And with the massive sexual innuendo overload it’s more of a carry-on than a Carry On film.
On top of this pantomimic stuff, Benidorm Live is staggeringly non-PC, especially with respect to gays, but also foreigners. There’s more than a dash of Fawlty Towers here.
A possible truth dawns. Could it be that this is a deliberate send-up of all those shows we were once allowed to delight in, yet at the same time being very funny in its own right? That way you can laugh at something you’re not really supposed to. It’s liberating.
The adaptable Solana Hotel set is as beautifully bad taste as the script; likewise, the lighting design, which augments it brilliantly.
As do all the performances. Early on there’s Bradley Clarkson, as holiday-maker Ben, with the grossly exaggerated gesture and movement of a silly ass in an inter-war farce. Then there’s Jake Canuso’s Mateo, half randy waiter, half ace flamenco dancer, with designs on Ben’s wife Sophie (on press night Serena Giacomini).
There are more: for instance, Janine Duvitski, as sex-mad old biddy Jacqueline, whose late husband wore a red dress, and Tony Maudsley as Kenneth, the very camp chief hairdresser Kenneth. His assistant Liam (played splendidly by Adam Gillen) is also gay. Damian Williams is excellent as yet another gay, Derek, who gets to deliver a super monologue near the end.
Song and dance, led by Asa Elliott, is exuberant – and highly contagious. A lot of the audience joined in Y Viva Espana at the finish.
Mateo: Jake Canuso
Jacqueline: Janine Duvitski
Liam: Adam Gillen
Joyce Temple-Savage: Sherrie Hewson
Sam: Shelley Longworth
Kenneth: Tony Maudsley
Himself: Asa Elliott
Sophie: Tricia Adele-Turner
Ben: Bradley Clarkson
Ricky: Will Jennings
Derek: Damian Williams
Holiday Maker/Solana Staff: Will Breckin
Taxi Driver/Holiday Maker/Solana Staff: Kevin Brewis
Mrs Cattleprod/Mrs Turnblad/Solana Staff: Deborah Bundy
Holiday Maker/Solana Staff/Brenda: Serena Giacomini
Holiday Maker/Solana Staff: Ben Redfern
Director: Ed Curtis
Set and Costume Designer: Rae Smith
Sound Designer: Richard Brooker
Lighting Designer: Ben Cracknell
Choreographer: Alan Harding