Benidorm Live

Sep 20 2018 | By More

★★★★☆     Bawdy

Edinburgh Playhouse: Mon 17 – Sat 22 Sept 2018
Review by Thom Dibdin

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.

Sherrie Hewson as Joyce Temple-Savage and Company in Benidorm Live. Pic: Paul Coltas

The cast of Benidorm Live. Pic: Paul Coltas

Without the pool-side footage and shots of over-weight holiday makers 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.

sharp and splenetic

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.


Benidorm Live Edinburgh Playhouse UK tour 2018/2019 Tony Maudsley 'Kenneth' and Adam Gillen 'Liam'. Photo Paul Coltas

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).

Benidorm Live Edinburgh Playhouse UK tour 2018/2019 Bradley Clarkson 'Ben' and Janine Duvitski 'Jacqueline'. Photo Paul Coltas

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:
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 Book online
19 – 24 Nov 2018 Bristol
0844 871 3012 Book online
26 Nov – 1 Dec 2018 Manchester
Palace Theatre
0844 871 3019 Book online
3 – 29 Dec 2018 Birmingham
New Alexandra Theatre
0844 871 3011 Book online
Tour continues in 2019:
7 – 12 Jan 2019 Southend
Cliffs Pavilion
01702 351135 Book online
14 – 19 Jan 2019 Sunderland
Empire Theatre
0844 871 3022 Book online
21 – 26 Jan 2019 Sheffield
Lyceum Theatre
0114 249 6000 Book online
28 Jan – 2 Feb 2019 Woking
New Victoria Theatre
0844 871 7645 Book online
4 – 9 Feb 2019 Glasgow
King’s Theatre
0844 871 7648 Book online
11 – 16 Feb 2019 Dartford
Orchard Theatre
01322 220000 Book online
18 – 23 Feb 2019 Cardiff
New Theatre
029 2087 8889 Book online
25 Feb – 2 Mar 2019 Brighton
Theatre Royal
0844 871 7650 Book online
4 – 9 Mar 2019 Aberdeen
His Majesty’s Theatre
01224 641122 Book online
11 – 16 Mar 2019 London
New Wimbledon Theatre
0844 871 7646 Book online
18 – 23 Mar 2019 Leeds
Grand Theatre
0844 848 2700 Book online
25 – 30 Mar 2019 Nottingham
Theatre Royal
0115 989 5555 Book online
1 – 6 April 2019 Belfast
Grand Opera House
028 9024 1919 Book online
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


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