REVIEW: Benidorm Live (Sunderland Empire) ★★★★★

The move from the beloved TV series to stage play has gone seamlessly for Benidorm, due in no small way to the brilliant writing of Derren Litten. He has given life to all the characters he knows so well.

In the fine tradition of farce, the story is based on a series of misunderstandings. Posh couple Sophie (Tricia Adele-Turner) and Ben (Bradley Clarkson) have been sent to the 3* Solano hotel in Benidorm because the sister hotel, the 5* Santiago hotel in Altea is overbooked. Manager Joyce (Sherrie Hewson) thinks the couple are really Hotel Inspectors and starts to treat them like VIP’s with free champagne, a personal waiter and a cheque for £3000 for “compensation”.

After meeting Ben at the pool, Jacqueline (Janine Duvitski) and her friend from the Middlesbrough Swingers Club, “Gay” Derek (Damian Williams) think that the couple are swingers.

At “Blow and Go”, Liam (Adam Gillen) is missing his dad Les so Kenneth (Tony Maudsley) fixes up a blind date for him. Derek meets Kenneth and falls instantly in love – with a totally hilarious scene with Derek “singing” I Can’t Fight This Feeling to Kenneth – all that was missing was a fogmaster 3000.

After discovering that Sophie and Ben aren’t the inspectors, Mateo (Jake Canuso) believes it to be Derek and he is given the champagne and attentive waiters instead.

It turns out to be someone else completely different in the end, but all’s well that ends well and we leave the Solano on a high.

Shelley Longworth completely shines as Sam the rep, revealing her outstanding singing voice and Jake Canuso shows off his epic dancing skills. Asa Elliott moves the plot along with his fabulous singing and there is some excellent choreography from Alan Harding.

Mark Walters’s set is versatile and I loved the little touches of the towels on the balconies, some curtains closed and others open and different lights on.

From Kenneth’s outfits to the double entendres, this show is very near the knuckle filth wise and the entire audience seemed to love it. With a very much deserved standing ovation at the end.

In Sunderland until Saturday and on tour around the UK, if you are a fan of the TV show then this hilarious stage version is not to be missed.

Reviewed by Susan Lindsay
Photo: Paul Coltas


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