A feel-good, fun-filled production that's a joy for it's fans.
Ever since it was first aired in 2007, holiday sitcom Benidorm has attracted a significant following, bringing a little bit of Alicante into our living rooms and reminding us of the quintessential package British holiday gone just a tad awry. Yet, with the series creator and writer Derren Litten announcing that series 10 would be the last via Twitter, how does this adaptation to stage compare to its television counterpart?
After enjoying two hours of bombast characters, hilarious misunderstandings, and shenanigans in sunny Spain, the production feels just like what it says on the tin: classic Benidorm, brought to the stage in a fun-filled production. The threat of a takeover by the Belroy Hotels chain looms over the Solana, and whispers of undercover agents posing as guests have the staff on edge. In a desperate effort to keep their jobs, they must dare to do what they’ve never done before: make the hotel function properly. But in the world of Litten’s Benidorm, chaos is inevitable.
Fans will be delighted to see the return of much of the cast for this touring production, and everyone’s up to their old tricks. The back and forth banter between Liam (played by Adam Gillen) and Kenneth (Tony Maudsley) has always been rather slapstick, but here it is absolutely amplified in the vein of a bawdy pantomime, in the best way possible, of course. The moment where Mrs. Cattleprod (Deborah Bundy), a little old lady, comes in for her appointment, having a Brazilian wax done, and trying to haggle for a deal on vajazzles is the classic subversion of expectations fans know and love from the programme. Likewise, Jacqueline (played fabulously by Janine Duvitski) continues to cause misunderstandings and make crude comments wherever she goes. The “pink pussy” cocktails that the Solana offers cause quite a stir, and the suggestive language of debating having “sausage in wine” or “sausage in cider” has all the classic Benidorm charm. But this shouldn’t detract from the new members of the cast. The hoity-toity Perkins couple, Sophie (Tricia Adele-Turner) and Ben (Bradley Clarkson), play into the Benidorm’s enduring tradition of juxtaposing normal holidaymakers with the antics of the Solana.
Through its 10-year run, the city of Benidorm itself has become a familiar and beloved character, and in the hands of designer Mark Walters, it is translated wonderfully onto the Mayflower stage. The buildings of the Benidorm Strip fan out on half crescents under a wash of blue, and the Solana rises at the centre, beneath an arch of light which helps set the scene. The versatility of the set is illustrated most vividly through the rotating doors that sit beneath the hotel’s portico. Whether it be the hotel reception, the entrance to the pool, or the doorway to the Blow and Go hair salon, the door helps the seamless shift between scenes. In fact, it helps echo the programme’s iconic interludes, aided by the props being bustled about by stagehands dressed in the Solana uniform and that familiar stinger from the show. With the set being transformed into fan favourite Neptune’s Bar after the intermission, the performance brings the majority of our favourite sets from the programme right on to the stage. Similarly, Neptune’s regular singer Asa Elliott gives several wonderful performances throughout the show, whether it be as the backdrop to Mateo’s (Jake Canuso) seductions or to help save the hotel at the Solana’s showcase. His rendition of ‘Y Viva España’ had the entire audience on their feet and singing along in the finale, and is a testament to the feel-good impression Benidorm Live leaves you with.
If you’re a fan of Benidorm and need to take another trip to the Solana Hotel, then you can’t go wrong by packing your bags and enjoying a glass of sangria at Benidorm Live.
Benidorm Live continues its tour in Liverpool from the 12th of November. Tickets can be purchased here.