PLYMOUTH & TOURING
THEATRE ROYAL PLYMOUTH – 27 OCTOBER
BENIDORM – LIVE by Derren Litten
RUNNING TIME 2 HOURS 10 MINUTES – 1 interval
Theatre Royal Plymouth Box Office – 01752 267222
REVIEW – CORMAC RICHARDS – 22 OCTOBER 2018
As one brought up during the Carry-On Film era and having dipped my toe in the pond of pantomime, I have heard a few double entendres in my time. In this production of Benidorm – Live, they come very think and very fast! I have recently seen a number of ‘comedies’ and found it difficult to find anything to laugh at. I have doubted my ability to giggle. I am pleased to report that my laughter muscles are working again, which may say something about my sense of humour I suppose!
For those not familiar with the ITV series of which this show is a spin-off – Benidorm is basically about a group of grotesque characters working in, or on holiday at, the Solana Hotel in the said Spanish resort. It started life on TV in 2007 and has run for 10 series. Characters have come and gone, but a number of the actors have made it to the stage version, written by Derren Litten, the original writer.
The plot is immaterial – suffice to say the hotel is under threat of closure and an undercover hotel inspector needs to be found and buttered up. Mistaken identities follow and confusion reigns – sounds like an episode of ‘Fawlty Towers’!
The action is played out in various locations of the hotel complex on an ingenious set which seems continually revolving in the first half, allowing the action to move on at a pace. The dialogue is not what you would call high brow and doesn’t claim to be, but it is speedy, delivered at a lick and with a boldness which makes it even funnier.
Subtlety in any form has never been a part of Benidorm and quite a few of the sexual references are way over the mark. You might wonder how they get away with it. Well it’s quite simple; there is a posse of really experienced performers who attack the walnut with a sledgehammer. They are playing much loved characters and as they each first appear on stage, they receive a huge ovation for the fan-strewn audience.
Heading up the cast, and the hotel, is Sherrie Hewson as the ditheringly ineffective, air-headed manager, Joyce Temple-Savage who gives us a wonderful array of facial expressions. Hotel barman and general lothario is Mateo played, and very well danced, by Jake Canuso. ‘Blow and Go’, the hotel beauty salon is run by the outrageous (in every sense of the word) Kenneth – a role very well filled by Tony Maudsley. Alongside Kenneth is dim, but lovable Liam; a character of bizarre movement and intonation quite wonderfully created by Adam Gillen – who, incidentally, I last saw playing Mozart (brilliantly) in ‘Amadeus’ at The National Theatre. Shelley Longworth is the brassy holiday rep and the wonderful Janine Duvitski is Jacqueline who has some of the best one-liners and the funniest moments; she is comedy gold. Among a supporting group of singers, dancers and smaller parts I have to mention Will Jennings as Ricky who has the most wonderfully funny and awful Spanish accent.
Most TV episodes ended with a scene in the hotel nightclub, Neptune’s, which was the single set used after the interval. This was a bit of a shame as the pace took quite a dip as we had a selection of songs and, albeit good, dancing. It felt a little as if the writer had run out of ideas or couldn’t stretch the plot across the time allotted.
Benidorm – Live is what it is. A cross between Carry On, Pantomime and Naughty Postcard humour. It is played with pace and bravado by a cast of talented actors who are obviously so at ease with the characters they are playing. It’s silly undemanding fun and just what the fans want.
Although it was let down a bit by the second half there were plenty of laughs throughout and a very rousing version ‘Y’Viva Espana’ to close the show.
If you like your humour coarse, obvious and naughty (and patently I do) then you will enjoy this mindless romp performed with brash joy by a great cast.
Mateo – Jake Canuso
Jacqueline – Janine Duvitski
Liam – Adam Gillen
Joyce – Sherrie Hewson
Sam – Shelley Longworth
Kenneth – Tony Maudsley
Himself – Asa Elliott
Sophie – Tricia Adele-Turner
Ben – Bradley Clarkson
Ricky – Will Jennings
Derek – Damian Williams
Ensemble – Will Breckin, Kevin Brewis, Deborah Bundy, Serena Giacomini, Ben Redfern
Writer – Derren Litten
Director – Ed Curtis
Set & Costume Designer – Mark Walters
Choreographer – Alan Harding
Lighting Designer – Ben Cracknell
Sound Designer – Richard Brooker