Benidorm Live!

2
Tue, 20th Nov 18
Touring show seen in Bristol.

If you were really into the original TV programmes then you will probably love this, after all, I believe it ran for ten series back in the day. I do remember seeing it back then but I was not a fan, it seemed to hark back to a humour of 20 years before and lacked any of the cleverer comedy that had come to the fore by then. This play (play with music really) is of the same genre and a read of the programme notes does give some background as to why. Darren Litten, who wrote the original series, had no real experience of writing for stage and so went out to watch some theatre, after seeing quite a bit, including a production of Pinter's The Birthday Party that he goes on about not understanding (that's ok, he's far from alone there) he is reminded of a panto he had written at the age of 12 - it is that which was the inspiration for the structure of this show.

So what we have are a series of cod characters in a simple tale of mistaken identities told in very Carry On dialogue with a happy ending and songs. This would be fine, but actually it is a very difficult genre to carry off successfully and requires great control. Sdly, this production is about as subtle as a pie in the face. Everyone is shouting all the time and the volume is turned up way too loud and the acting styles are wildly inconsistent from Tricia Adele-Turner's almost naturalistic Sophie at one end to Damian Williams' gurning Derek at the other. Way too much standing at the front of stage speaking out when you were supposed to be speaking to other characters, a follow-spot that didn't, a lack of variety in pace and level and comedy Spanish accents that belonged more to the Goon show than a stage play. Just too much was out of kilter for me.

If you loved the original show then go, by all means, for me it was a cringe-worthy evening I hope to forget. For once I was almost glad that the woman in front of me had decided to pile all her hair into a 6cm bun on top of her head so I couldn't see all the stage till I moved seats in the second half.

There's a particularly well designed set.

 


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