Benidorm Live – Review – Leeds Grand Theatre
Benidorm Live – Review
Leeds Grand Theatre, March 2019
by Steve Crabtree – @stevecrab
Hit TV show Benidorm ran for ten series on ITV, picking up a bag full of awards on the way. And where TV is now missing out on the Brits-abroad catastro-comedy, the stage is taking things to a different level of all-inclusive hilarity.
Bringing back six of the iconic lead characters to tour the country has been a genius move by writer Derren Little. And free from the restrictions that TV can bring (no OFCOM in the audience tonight!), Benidorm Live is an absolute must-see for fans of the show.
We kick our trip to Spain off with Sophie (Tricia Adele-Turner) and Ben (Bradley Clarkson) Perkins arriving at the chaos-filled Solana, as the hotel is under threat of closure. And the excruciatingly difficult check-in process is sorted out (eventually) by the appearance of Joyce Temple-Savage (Sherrie Hewson).
There’s huge whoops and cheers when she appears, with the same happening for the rest of the TV cast as they make their entrance. And as you’d expect, the show is full of saucy innuendo and adult comedy. And changing it from the TV screen to the stage works perfectly.
Much of the show is played out in Benidorm’s premier hairdressing salon, Blow n Go. Owner Kenneth (Tony Maudsley) and his sidekick Liam (Adam Gillen) had the audience in to roaring with laughter. These two could have their own show, they work together so well. Liam’s vulnerable stupidity is there in all it’s glory, and the Corrie-esque campness of Kenneth brings the house down.
In fact, bringing the house down happens regularly in Benidorm Live. Gag after gag, and funny after funny, you’ve barely stopped laughing hard at one thing before you’re laughing hard again at the next. Even the ad-libs and the oops moments were hilarious too.
Gay Derek (Damian Williams) tries to woo Kenneth to no avail, even if his trousers that kept falling open. And a protruding finger in the same scene caused the same fits of giggles for everyone. Tony Maudsley wasn’t expecting that one!
“Innuendo-ravaged as ever”
Despite loving the show when it first aired in 2007, Benidorm Live probably had me howling even more than the TV show ever did.
Show stopper of the evening was awarded many times to Janine Duvitski though, playing everyone’s favourite old swinger Jacqueline. As saucy and innuendo-ravaged as ever, I lost count of the amount of times she mentioned having a Sausage in Cider.
And Jake Cannuso played his role lothario Matteo to a tee. Seducing Sophie, but always having time to give a cheeky wink to the ladies in the front row. He closed act one hilariously wearing a pair of red budgie smugglers, whilst holding a massive cocktail. That gag alone summed up the tone of the night.
“Fast and frantic”
Scenery wise, they’d created a fab set. The Solana is always in view, and the main stage elements quickly revolve to keep up with the fast pace of the show. Neptunes Bar was nicely recreated for the stage, and Act 2 was solely set there. Behind every joke, gag and funny laid a plot which lent itself to the humour, rather than the other way around. Who (or whom, depending on your level of English) was there to close the hotel down? Or not?
The gang unfolded the mystery, while we heard Sam (Shelley Longworth) and Liam belting out a line or two on karaoke. It was a very music focused half of the show, and crammed in just as many jokes as in act one.
Benidorm Live was fast and frantic, and the little over two hours we had enjoying it went too quickly. Much like one of those sun holidays you don’t want to end. There were rapturous applause and a standing ovation at the end of the show after a finale of ‘Viva Espana’.
The Leeds Grand Theatre had really enjoyed what they’d come to see, and Benidorm Live had worked. Really worked. It’s the funniest show I’ve seen in ages, and if you love laughing hard, you cannot miss this show.