Touring – reviewed at New Wimbledon Theatre, London
Camp, crude and cheesy, Benidorm Live has brought the popular TV programme to life in a fantastic way. Derren Litten’s stage adaptation completely captures the feel-good essence of the programme and has the audience laughing out loud throughout.
Almost taking the form of an episode from the TV, Benidorm Live follows the staff and holidaymakers at the tattered and tacky beyond belief, Solana Resort in Benidorm. Famous faces from the series Liam (Adam Gillen), Mateo (Jake Canuso), Joyce (Sherrie Hewson), Kenneth (Tony Maudsley), Jacqueline (Janine Duvitski) and Sam (Shelley Longworth), fight to reveal and impress the undercover hotel inspectors who could lead to the shut down of the resort. The story is basic but extremely well put across; what the narrative lacks, is made up for with performance and wit.
Mark Walters’ cleverly designed set, brings the hotel to life with cheer and brightness, featuring a pool side, Neptune’s Bar, the hotel reception and the Blow‘N’Go salon. The transitions from scene to scene are well done, especially when mini dance interludes draw the audience away from the set changes completely. By the end of the show, you almost forget you’re not watching the TV, or even that you’re not sitting on a Benidorm beach yourself.
Whilst the hugely enjoyable design of the show is great, it’s the utterly hilarious cast who really bring it to life. Hewson prances about barking orders to no avail. As the sleazy but adored Mateo, Canuso is outstanding and he tries (and fails) to seduce the hotel’s guests. Particularly impressive is the link to Canuso’s past, where he shows off some of his sharp, supported dance.
Duvitski gives one of the wittiest, most innuendo rife performances ever. Her play on words and general larger than life persona, makes her a definite audience favourite, gaining laugh after laugh. Gillen’s Liam is endearing and wonderful, as is his partner in crime, Kenneth, played as camply as possible by Maudsley.
Asa Elliot as himself, provides some great vocals. As the middle-class holidaymakers who find themselves at the Solana when their dream hotel is overbooked, Tricia Adele-Turner and Bradley Clarkson give buoyant performances as Sophie and Ben.
Derren Litten’s stage debut should be applauded as he creates a rowdy night out that is easy to follow but still highly entertaining. A saucy, seaside postcard of a show, Benidorm Live is sure to delight fans of the series and newbies alike as they take a carefree, innuendo-filled trip to sunny Spain.
Benidorm Live is at the New Wimbledon Theatre until March 16th before continuing its tour.