An admission must be made, despite being familiar with the success of Benidorm over the course of its ten series run, this reviewer has never actually seen an episode of the sun, sea and sangria soaked hit ITV comedy. However, it’s evident from the deafening applause that greets each beloved character as they step onto the stage, that I am firmly in the minority. That said, ignorance of the TV show is no barrier to enjoying the bawdy antics of the barmy sun-seekers.
The action takes place after a threatened takeover of ownership of the resort and the staff fearing for their jobs. Things at the Solano hotel couldn’t get any worse, when word gets out that undercover hotel inspectors are here from their proposed new owners, farcical antics, and mistaken identity ensues with a few song and dance routines thrown in for good measure.
The chemistry that has no doubt built up over the ten year run of the programme is evident in the slickness with which the whole production runs. Every gag lands perfectly and there’s an ease between the lead actors that can only be easily achieved through familiarity. Jake Canuso gets the loudest cheers of the evening as lothario Mateo and displays his formidable physical skills from his previous life as one of Europe’s top dancers (the Flamenco sequence is fabulous). One gripe would be that he is seriously underused, though, in an ensemble cast, writer Litten has given everyone onstage equal chance to shine. Tony Maudsley as Blow ‘n Go salon owner Kenneth sports his trademark saucy slogan T-shirts and eye-wateringly tight shorts and along with Canuso, is an undoubted audience favourite. Adam Gillen is also a treat as naïve hairdresser Liam.
Mark Walters’ transforming set is a triumph, it brings the warmth of Spain and the vibrancy of a cheap and cheerful holiday resort gloriously to life. It transitions between hotel reception, poolside, the Blow n’ Go salon and Neptune’s Bar with ease. The costumes are pitch perfect too and the whole thing is beautifully lit by Ben Cracknell.
As with the TV show, this is not for the easily offended, the jokes are adult in content, though nothing that would embarrass your granny too much, and subtlety has been thrown to the wind throughout. It plays like a 1970s British sitcom. The story is as slim as Mateo’s hips but, that said, this is firmly aimed at the audience it attracted in the millions over the decade long run of the ITV show. The auditorium is packed to the rafters and while it certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste, it has to be applauded for knowing its audience well and delivering the goods for its fans.
As TV to stage adaptations goes, this is the perfect example of how it should be done.
THIS REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR THE REVIEWS HUB.