The Playhouse, Edinburgh
The Sun looks like setting on the Solana Hotel at the start of Derren Litten’s end-of-the-pier adaptation of his phenomenally successful Brits-abroad sit-com. Picking up from the tenth-series swan-song, Litten’s script sees new owners of the expat paradise intent on a make-over of the Solana’s crumbling if still gaudily cheap-as-chips interior. Rooms are at rock bottom prices for good reason, as posh couple Sophie and Ben arrive at reception like cuckoos in an increasingly madcap nest for a cheap holiday in both their and other people’s misery.
Like a spray-tanned cocktail of Crossroads, Fawlty Towers and Hi De-Hi! on the Med, Ed Curtis’ production brings six of Benidorm’s original TV cast for what is essentially two episodes-worth of salami-sized innuendo and dubious Spanish-English wordplay, the likes of which hasn’t been heard since Mind Your Language graced our pre-PC screens.
From the moment the show’s theme music strikes up the audience are up for it. There are panto-sized cheers for every entrance, from Sherrie Hewson’s brittle middle-manager Joyce and Shelley Longworth’s perennially peppy Sam, to Tony Maudsley’s doyen of on-site hairdressing salon Blow-and-Go, Kenneth, and his sidekick Liam, played by Adam Gillen.
The second half, set in Neptune’s Bar, becomes a mini talent show that allows Jake Canuso’s dancing to reveal a showman beyond what’s in hotel bar lothario Mateo’s pants. With the show peppered throughout with songs performed by real life crooner Asa Elliott, this set of extended cabaret turns are worth the ticket price alone to see the divine Janine Duvitski singing 1950s pop hit, Rubber Ball, while riding the backs of a pair of bronzed himbos. In what might well be an extended metaphor for Brexit’s imminent tsunami of Little Britain-ism writ large, this is a bawdy reminder of life as a saucy seaside postcard that looks destined to make audiences wish they were very much here.
The Herald, September 19th 2018