REVIEW: Benidorm Live @Theatre Royal

When Benidorm hit our TV screens in 2007 it was in a rich vein of sit coms, dating back to Hancock in 1956.

AND millions tuned in each week over its 70 + episodes, ending in 2018.

But Derren Littlen, its creator, isn’t done with his baby and so Benidorm Live has toured the UK for the last few months, hitting the boards in Brighton this week.

Half a dozen of the tv stars are in this musical interlude – notably of course for Brightonians is Brighton-based Tony Maudsley who plays the outrageous hairdresser Kenneth.

But here too live in front of a highly excited audience are heartthrob barman Mateo (Jake Canuso), middle-aged swinger Jacqueline (Jane Duvitski), gay-or-not gay Liam (Adam Gillen), hotel manager Joyce (Sherrie Henson), and tour guide Sam (Shelley Longworth).

The audience of course are huge TV fans so each principal gets an ovation on their carefully crafted separate first entrances.

The script is quick-fire with one-liners worthy in their innuendo of any Carry On film.

And they’ve even kept one of the TV highlights – a famous performer playing themselves – in this case it’s singer/impersonator Asa Elliott, reminding us so much of Tony Hadley in the TV version,

The storyline carries on from the final TV episode, with the Hotel Solana up for takeover and everyone’s job on the line. The plot develops into a mystery story as the staff try to find out the identity of an undercover hotel inspector, with hilarious results.

It isn’t really a musical and it isn’t really a play, though it has dialogue, songs and dances, all camply delivered by the stars and ensemble. It’s a show – a good old-fashioned seaside – end of the pier show, with a fabulous revolving set and everyone performing at the top of their game.

Expect one-liners like someone reading the menu and referring to Jacqueline saying “she likes a sausage in cider” – just read it out loud dear reader, and that’s what’s in store for you.

All six principals play their characters pitch perfect and even if you’re a Benidorm virgin like me, the storyline is funny, touching and just joyous to follow.

Derren is said to be considering a film version. It’s a hit formula that may well give and give.

Benidorm Live plays at the Theatre Royal, Brighton till Saturday, March 2, and then continues its national tour.

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