IT is easy to make fun of the TV series Benidorm, describing it as shallow, appealing to the lowest sense of humour, always looking for the cheapest easy laugh available and very non-PC in its humour, but there has to be more than that to it in order for it to survive eleven series attracting millions of viewers in one of the most competitive forms of entertainment.
In adapting the show for the stage Derren Litten, one of the TV writers, has no intention of straying from this winning formula. He gives Director Ed Curtis a script, albeit a flimsy one about a mysterious hotel inspector whose report could close the inefficient Solana Resort down, that would fit snugly into any of those episodes during that eleven series run. The garish set,which changes its locale at speed via a stage revolve, with costumes as colourful as the set, is also straight out of those TV images.
That is what the majority of the audience were hoping to see, plus of course characters only previously seen on their home screens.
Six original TV cast members were on view and on each of their first entrances they were greeted by a rapturous round of applause from their loyal army of fans.
After that sort of reception it would have been a brave actor who departed from the fixed images the majority of the audiences had in their heads. All Sherrie Hewson had to do was recite a handful of her oft-repeated TV lines to bring a big response from the audience. In all fairness, Sherrie made far more than a stiff cardboard cut-out figure of the harassed manager, Joyce Temple-Savage, and Jake Canuso did more than just pose as the hotel “stud”, Mateo, showing the man behind the well oiled torso.
When given the opportunity, Shelley Longworth showed that she could put a number across just as well as she could play the sympathetic entertainments manager.
In these days, when our TV screens often carry messages that outdated views could cause offence, you wondered why there were no warnings on view about Tony Maudsley’s outrageously camp hairdresser Kenneth, their absence certainly did not upset the audience who found plenty to laugh at in his antics and bullying of junior salon partner Liam, deliciously uncertain in the hands of Adam Gillen. The last of the TV originals, but by no means the least, of the regulars to appear was Janine Duvitski. A lady with a long successful acting CV, Janine knew exactly how far to push the character of the eccentric old Jacqueline to gain maximum comedy effect, without turning character into caricature.
Damian Williams, happily remembered for a series of comedy roles at Yeovil Octagon and Weston-super-Mare Playhouse, was a splendid foil for Janine Duvitski and Tony Maudsley. Tricia Adele-Turner and Bradley Clarkson provide good portraits of the bickeringly unhappy holiday couple Sophie and Ben, it was broader style comedy from Will Jennings as the waiter /receptionist Ricky and robust vocals and MC introductions from Asa Elliott in a production that set out with on aim in mind to bring TV’s Benidorm to the stage. As far as their loyal fans were concerned the plan worked well, but I doubt that they converted many neutral in the audience to their cause.