Thursday, 7 February 2019

REVIEW: Benidorm at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking

Stage adaptations of books, films and television shows are nothing new and have been met with mixed success. For every Full Monty there’s a Shawshank Redemption. This new production of Benidorm follows sitcom successes such as Dinnerladies and Heartbeat and hopes to win the hearts of first time fans of the show and perhaps generate appetite for a TV comeback.

Pleasingly, many of the faces from the show appear in this show and are warmly greeted by the loyal audience who love the familiarity of their favourite characters in front of them.

It’s a strong cast too with Janine Duvitski’ particularly impressing as loud, irritating (but very funny) hotel regular Jacqueline. Sherrie Hewson is a commanding presence as hotel manager Joyce Temple Savage while Adam Gillen and Tony Maudsley are audience favourites as comedy duo Liam and Kenneth.

There genuinely isn’t a misplaced cast member, with the supporting actors doing a great job against their well-known counterparts and helping drive the pace of the show and keep the storytelling lively. Tricia Adele-Turner has a tricky role of stuck up guest Sophie, but executes this perfectly, making us really feel for long suffering husband Ben played by Bradley Clarkson. This is a real ensemble piece though with everyone working hard and shining in equal measure.

Interestingly in writer Derren Litten’s programme notes he recalls a time when he wrote a pantomime and how tapping into this helped overcome his bout of writers block when approaching Benidorm. The show really does have a feel of a good panto about it; easy to watch, stock characters, well placed musical moments and some great gags. It’s a script packed of laughs and pace.

There was also a surprisingly good use of movement throughout with all the
cast taking a role in this and again, this really helped keep the pace of the show lively. The humour is gentle and easy to follow and the slickness of the show made this a really enjoyable 2 hours. 

Designer Mark Walters has done a great job with a flexible and fluid set design allowing the various locations of the hotel Solanda to come alive. This was well complimented by the movement and great characterisation. 

This is definitely a must-see for fans of the ITV show, but a really fun night out for newbies like this reviewer. It’s fluffy and silly but a great bit of escapism and a real crowd pleaser.

Review by Andy Edmeads 

Rating: ★★★★
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