‘Boldly brash & and brazen with it’: BENIDORM LIVE – Touring ★★★★

In Musicals, Opinion, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews, Scotland, Touring by Thom DibdinLeave a Comment

Touring – reviewed at Edinburgh Playhouse

Boldly brash – and brazen with it – the live musical version of ITV hit Benidorm combines plenty of recognition for the show’s fans with the kind of comedy that would make a panto dame blush.

Six of the TV regulars make it to the stage and writer Derren Litten has plenty of fun for them to get up to. But first, he eases those who are new to the programme gently in, with the arrival at hotel Solana’s front desk of posh couple Sophie and Ben, whose original (much superior) hotel has over-booked.

Without the pool-side footage and shots of over-weight holidaymakers chowing down all-you-can-eat breakfasts available to the TV show, the status of this all-inclusive resort is established by passing sun-seekers making lewd comments about inflatable crocodiles.

It’s deftly done and any newbie could hardly miss those who have become regulars on the TV show either, as they are cheered to the rafters on their first appearances. Although newcomers would be forgiven for thinking the original was a lot more foul-mouthed than it really was.

Otherwise it is pretty much business as usual with a sort of extended remix, without the quick-fire editing, of a coda to the TV shows tenth and final – so says Litten – series. It has as much content as a new episode, but takes its time to tell it. And leaves everything open for a cheeky wee eleventh series if he likes.

The plot, when it eventually arrives, concerns the takeover of the Selena by a bigger hotel chain. Sharp-tongued manageress Joyce Temple-Savage has found out that the new owners are not pleased with the way the Solana is run and has sent in an undercover assessor to report back.

It’s hardly a spoiler to say that, as you would expect with such a plot device, Joyce will jump to the wrong conclusion about who might be doing the undercover assessing. Nor would it be unfair to remark that the consequent mix-up will provide the basis for much of the ensuing comedy.

 

Tony Maudsley and Adam Gillen. Pic: Paul Coltas

Sherrie Hewson shows some of Joyce’s sharp and splenetic side in the opening scenes, rounding on guests and staff alike. She’s quite happy to parade her prejudice about local staff member Ricky (Will Jennings) but when Tricia Adele-Turner’s Sophie shows the same attitudes to the Spanish staff, she uses it to score scathing points against her.

Hewson rather fades away in later scenes without a proper foil to work against – largely because she is reduced to one-sided phone conversations mostly designed to help the plot along.

The phone call is an easy device to deploy and Litten rather over-uses it, notably with a running gag with hairdresser Liam on the phone to his dad – cross dressing Lesley Conroy who is doing time for tax evasion. It’s fun to have news of Les, but it is all a bit pointed and, really, there isn’t any need

Adam Gillen as Liam and Tony Maudsley as outrageous hairdresser Kenneth of the Blow’N’Go have plenty to offer in the way of laughs. Even if there is little of the innuendo that permeates the TV show – replaced by entendres so obviously painted in bright shades of blue that you would be hard put to describe them as double.

notorious swinger

Things gets even more vulgar with the appearance of Janine Duvitski as notorious swinger Jacquline, who reminisces without remorse abut the tendencies of her departed husband (who was, of course, played by the late Kenny Ireland, one-time artistic director of the Lyceum).

Bradley Clarkson and Janine Duvitski. Pic: Paul Coltas

As a musical this has its moments – the scene introducing Jake Canuso as lothario barkeep Mateo, where he seduces Sophie while Bradley Clarkson’s Ben stands disconcertedly by is excellently done. The male Solana Staff providing a proper chorus, but there is not enough of it.

The second half, when everyone repairs to Neptunes night club for the evening entertainment is rather better served on the musical front, with Asa Elliot letting rip on a couple of karaoke standards.

Shelley Longworth, who is underused throughout as holiday rep Sam, has a delightful middle range voice and the whole saucy postcard schtick is given a resounding Yeah Hah! slap around the nether regions in a rendition of Rubber Ball that could be sub-titled Donkey to Ride given her accompanying actions.

It’s easy to be snooty about Benidorm – and part of its appeal is the way it laughs at those who are so. A closer look reveals a show which is properly inclusive in many ways. So, while Benidorm Live’s over use of crass comedy is easily forgiven, its all-white casting – in contrast to the TV – feels a lot less easy to pass by.

However, by the time the whole auditorium is on its feet for the finale, dancing along to Y Viva Espana, you’d be forgiven for forgetting how many cracks in the Benidorm carapace have been papered over to get there.

Running time: two hours and 10 minutes (including one interval)
Edinburgh Playhouse, 18 – 22 Greenside Place, EH1 3AA.
Monday 17 – Saturday 22 September 2018
Evenings: 7.30pm, Matinees Weds, Sat: 2.30pm.
Click here to buy tickets.

Benidorm Live website: www.benidormonstage.com.
Twitter: @benidormonstage.
Facebook: @benidormonstage.

Benidorm Live on tour 2018/19:

17 – 22 Sept 2018
Edinburgh
Playhouse Theatre
0844 871 3014
Book online

24 – 29 Sept 2018
Stoke On Trent
Regent Theatre
0844 871 7649
Book online

1 – 6 Oct 2018
Dublin
Bord Gáis Energy Theatre
0844 248 5101
Book online

8 – 13 Oct 2018
Hull
New Theatre
01482 300 306
Book online

15 – 20 Oct 2018
Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes Theatre
0844 871 7652
Book online

22 – 27 Oct 2018
Plymouth
Theatre Royal
01752 267222
Book online

29 Oct – 3 Nov 2018
Bradford
Alhambra Theatre
01274 432000
Book online

5 – 10 Nov 2018
Southampton
Mayflower Theatre
02380 711811
Book online

12 – 17 Nov 2018
Liverpool
Empire Theatre
0844 871 3017
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19 – 24 Nov 2018
Bristol
Hippodrome
0844 871 3012
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26 Nov – 1 Dec 2018
Manchester
Palace Theatre
0844 871 3019
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3 – 29 Dec 2018
Birmingham
New Alexandra Theatre
0844 871 3011
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Tour continues in 2019:

7 – 12 Jan 2019
Southend
Cliffs Pavilion
01702 351135
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14 – 19 Jan 2019
Sunderland
Empire Theatre
0844 871 3022
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21 – 26 Jan 2019
Sheffield
Lyceum Theatre
0114 249 6000
Book online

28 Jan – 2 Feb 2019
Woking
New Victoria Theatre
0844 871 7645
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4 – 9 Feb 2019
Glasgow
King’s Theatre
0844 871 7648
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11 – 16 Feb 2019
Dartford
Orchard Theatre
01322 220000
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18 – 23 Feb 2019
Cardiff
New Theatre
029 2087 8889
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25 Feb – 2 Mar 2019
Brighton
Theatre Royal
0844 871 7650
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4 – 9 Mar 2019
Aberdeen
His Majesty’s Theatre
01224 641122
Book online

11 – 16 Mar 2019
London
New Wimbledon Theatre
0844 871 7646
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18 – 23 Mar 2019
Leeds
Grand Theatre
0844 848 2700
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25 – 30 Mar 2019
Nottingham
Theatre Royal
0115 989 5555
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1 – 6 April 2019
Belfast
Grand Opera House
028 9024 1919
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8 – 13 April 2019
Llandudno
Venue Cymru
01492 872000
Book online

15 – 20 April 2019
Canterbury
Marlowe Theatre
01227 787787
Book online

Jake Canuso ‘Mateo’ and Tricia Adele-Turner ‘Sophie’. Photo Paul Coltas

ENDS

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Thom Dibdin
Thom Dibdin has been reviewing and writing about theatre in Scotland since the last millennium. He is currently Scotland Correspondent for The Stage newspaper. In 2010, he founded AllEdinburghTheatre.com. The city's only dedicated theatre website, it covers all Edinburgh theatre year-round - and all theatre made in Edinburgh during EdFringe. Thom is passionate about quality in theatre criticism and is a member of the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland. He tweets from @AllEdinTheatre and, personally, from @ThomDibdin.
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Thom Dibdin on FacebookThom Dibdin on RssThom Dibdin on Twitter
Thom Dibdin
Thom Dibdin has been reviewing and writing about theatre in Scotland since the last millennium. He is currently Scotland Correspondent for The Stage newspaper. In 2010, he founded AllEdinburghTheatre.com. The city's only dedicated theatre website, it covers all Edinburgh theatre year-round - and all theatre made in Edinburgh during EdFringe. Thom is passionate about quality in theatre criticism and is a member of the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland. He tweets from @AllEdinTheatre and, personally, from @ThomDibdin.

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