Benidorm Live – Review – Hull New Theatre
By Roger Crow, October 2018
The number of times I’ve seen sun-kissed sitcom smash Benidorm, I could count on the fingers of one hand. However, it’s been hard to ignore the show’s success over the past decade. Derren Litten’s series about eclectic staff and holiday makers at a Spanish resort clearly touched a chord with the masses, who have been hooked for a decade or more. So although I recognise many of the faces, I’m basically a newcomer.
I’m sat next to somebody who clearly knows the show inside out. Every time a certain character appears, he and countless others erupt into rapturous applause. Mark Walters’ set is a beautifully designed and constructed work of art, combining the flavour of the Solana resort and assorted offices. His costumes are also fabulous.
There’s a wealth of gags as a couple check into the hostelry after a problem with their original hotel. They have a hard time due to a new, indifferent employee. As each of the beloved characters makes their debut (to the sort of audience reception usually reserved for rock stars), the story starts to unfold.
“Sight to behold”
In a plot reminiscent of Fawlty Towers’ ‘The Hotel Inspectors’, an official is here undercover on business, and their happiness is crucial if the place is to stay open. It’s a great plot device that works a treat as the staff try and find out who it is and assorted romantic complications ensue.
Elements remind me of Carry On Abroad, and there are some gloriously filthy gags. As the cast gel so well, there’s little wonder the likes of Sherrie Hewson, Tony Maudsley and Janine Duvitski are like cogs in a well-oiled machine. Seeing the latter is a treat as I’m such a fan of Abigail’s Party, it’s great to witness her bringing the house down more than 40 years after that comedy classic turned her into a cult star.
And then there’s Jake Canuso as Lothario Mateo, whose ripped physique in red pants is a sight to behold. He can obviously play the part in his sleep, but he, and the rest of the cast, never put a foot wrong during the comedy and dance routines. Panto veteran Damian Williams is especially good as Derek, generating giggles every second he’s on stage.
“Splash of colour”
Remarkably there’s not a fluffed line, which can add to the comedy in a production like this. The show flies by, thanks to that mix of music and laugh-out-loud gags. Some are so gloriously OTT, it takes a minute for the cast to carry on because the masses are laughing so loudly. And little wonder. This is glorious fun from one of Hull’s most successful comedy writers, so it’s a treat to see his work performed on home turf.
Some shows outstay their welcome, but this is the perfect length, and I’m not surprised the cast get a standing ovation at the end. On a grey autumnal day, it’s just the splash of colour I needed, and if there’s any justice, the show should be packing them out at Hull New Theatre for the duration.
In an unscripted post-show moment, I’m hanging around the lobby, when a couple of glamorous women who look like extras from a Bond movie catch my eye. “Derren,” one says, and I suspect they’ve seen the author, so I hang around to eavesdrop. No sign of him. However, after pottering around for a while, one comes up to me and asks if I’m the writer. It’s a surreal moment which feels like a set up, but only adds to the fun as I explain I’m not.
However, while watching the masses file out, it’s a glorious sight to see so many satisfied customers beaming and enthusing over the production. The real Derren Litten should be very proud, as should director Ed Curtis and the rest of the creatives who made this work so well.
Even if you’ve never seen the series, Benidorm Live is a glorious success with some of the best comedy actors in the business and killer music. I certainly wouldn’t have much trouble watching the whole thing again, and there’s no higher praise than that.
images: Paul Coltas