*** 3 Stars
“Y’viva Espana – Just about”
2007 saw the launch of Derren Little’s acclaimed sitcom “Benidorm” showing life on the Costa Blanca at the all-inclusive Solana Resort. A largely ensemble sitcom that embraced the culture of the Spanish Blackpool. The show would become a bafta award winning success that was embraced by its audiences. Starting off as 30-minute episodes before turning into hour long episodes in series 3. ITV produced all ten seasons however in 2018 it was confirmed that the show would be ending with no further episodes slated for production.
To celebrate ten years of comedy and mayhem 6 of the principal cast are hitting the road with an ensemble cast and taking Benidorm “Live” for the first time. Derren Little has written this two hour long show and cleverly the story picks up from where season 10 ended with the staff of the Solana facing losing their jobs due to the takeover by Belroy Hotels. The arrival of an inspector working under cover drives the employees to do what they must to save their jobs and hence that is the plot for the show.
This production is essentially a romp with huge cheers as Mateo (Jake Canuso), Jacqueline (Janine Duvitski), Liam (Adam Gillen), Joyce Temple-Savage (Sherrie Hewson), Sam (Shelley Longworth) and Kenneth (Tony Maudsley) all make there entrances yes indeed the tv stars have arrived. They all deliver their characters brilliantly but are hampered by the feeling this is a 30-minute sitcom episode stretched to its very limits.
The show is so overloaded with “Knob” and “Pussy” gags that it can easily become groans of laughter as opposed to belly laughs. However, the production team know just who the audience is for this production and plays to its strengths and doesn’t let up. There are musical breaks with 9 songs scattered throughout many of which are given to tv series regular and real-life Benidorm cabaret artist Asa Elliot popping up to sing, the fact the character never furthers either plot or comedy is dispensed with as it allows a real sing a long environment to prevail and brings a sense of Benidorm to the theatre.
Director Ed Curtis has worked well with the source material and has captured the spirit of the tv original and is boosted by Mark Walter’s clever Set and Costume design, its interesting the production carries a Choreographer with Alan Harding taking on the job. The dancing is somewhat uninspired simply sticking on a sombrero and shaking maracas as the performer shakes their hips from stage left to right is one way of covering a set change. Unfortunately, there are just too many of these moments in the show. The finale sequence is chance for the full company to give there all-in a well-set production number and does end the show on a high point, so much so many of the audience leap to the feet for the curtain call.
There were a few sound issues on opening night only noticeable due to the vast size of the playhouse, but these niggles are soon sorted as the show beds in to its run. Benidorm Live does exactly what it sets out too, it brings the tv show to the stage and delivers for the fans of the show. However, if you’re not a fan or have just seen one or two episodes you may wish you had saved the money for Barcelona instead, either way its Y’viva Espana – Just about!
Benidorm Live! Edinburgh Playhouse until Saturday 22nd September For Tickets go to: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/benidorm/edinburgh-playhouse/
The Tour will also visit Glasgow Kings Theatre 4th-9th February 2019 and Aberdeen His Majesty’s theatre 4th to 9th March 2019.