Benidorm Live: Milton Keynes Theatre (atgtickets.com)


There were howls of anguish from a loyal ITV audience when Benidorm chucked in its beach towel after 10 successful seasons. But creator Derren Litten has moved the saga of the Solana on with a live show that, freed from the constraints of public service broadcasting guidelines, turns up the breezy postcard humour into a bracing
gale of single entendres.


The show features six cast members from the TV show and each duly receives a warm and on their entrance (Sorry, this stuff is contagious). Sherrie Hewson’s Joyce Temple-Savage, the hotel manager,  does an exemplary job of being tough, tender and lofty and bitchy,  generally all at the same time; Jake Canuso reprises his long-standing turn as latin lothario Mateo the barman and Shelley Longworth makes a welcome return as Sam Wood, now a wise-cracking member of staff of the three-and-a-half star flop house.



Janine Duvitzki is back, too, as Jacqueline, founder member of Middlesbrough Swingers Association and still a believer that three (or more) is the magic number. Duvitski’s comedy pedigree is beyond impressive: never forget that she was a member of the original cast of Abigail’s Party back in the 1970s. Her timing, delivery and relish for a telling line turns weapons-grade smut into comedy gold. Spoiler alert: there are few actors that can deliver the words ‘pink pussy’ with such panache.


On excellent form, too, are
the staff of the Blow ‘n’ Go hairdressing salon. Tony Maudsley’s Kenneth and Adam Gillen’s Liam are a double-act that takes in high camp, low camp and all camps in between. The portly Kenneth is a revelation – the revelation being how a bloke that big fits into Lycra pants designed for the smuggling of any number of bird species. Liam is essentially an innocent abroad, a masterpiece of characterisation that channels the ghost of Norman Wisdom.


But it’s not just the TV gang that impress: Tricia Adele Turner and Bradley Clarkson grab plenty of laughs as a posh couple slumming it at the Solana, while Damian Williams is a tour de farce as Gay Derek, who only has eyes for Kenneth's many bulges.


If you’ve ever seen Fawlty
Towers, El Dorado or Duty Free you’ll recognise a plot full of undercover hotel inspectors, imminent bankruptcy, class warfare and cheery knockabout British loathing for other nations. But it’s not a familiarity that breeds contempt; the plot is simply a vehicle for some zinging exchanges that certainly left many of the audience sitting in damp patches.


Holding it all together is Mark Walters’s accomplished set design, which in the first act serves as reception, salon and poolside and in the second as the infamous Neptune.

Benidorm represents a good
night out in the British music hall tradition – some banter, some music, some dancing and a bit of a sing-along. All that was missing was Mabel and her
mobility scooter.



Benidorm Live is at Milton
Keynes Theatre until Saturday October 20