Welcome to Solana, Benidorm! We are in Benidorm but this is Benidorm live in Milton Keynes as this week Benidorm the TV show comes to the stage and what a blast it is! Have your hair done by Kenneth, flirt with Mateo and enjoy a sunbed chat with Jacqueline. They are all here, waiting for you to book in.
The story is based around a rather posh couple who are checking in. Ben (Bradley Clarkson) and his wife Sophie (Tricia Adele-Turner) are rather shocked at the standard of the hotel and lack of customer service. Of course, once Joyce Temple-Savage realises they could be here to investigate the hotel for a possible merge/takeover, suddenly the couple are given the best treatment available at the Solana including Joyce giving them 3k out of her own pocket – her entire life savings! Mateo gives Sophie all his best moves to try to impress her including turning up in his tight red ‘Hola’ swimming trunks. Although Sophie is initially impressed she sees through this and has no intention of sleeping with Mateo. Mateo is played by Jake Canuso and he epitomises every Spanish waiter you have ever met on holiday which is why his role is so perfect. Jake is great in this role and gives his all to the show. At times he reminds me of Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode and that is not a bad thing – it’s a very sexy thing. The fabulous Sherrie Hewson plays Joyce and I absolutely love her. Sherrie gives Joyce heart and even though you know she is not the best manager you still want her to succeed. Jacqueline makes friends with Ben and gets the wrong end of the stick thinking they are swingers. Janine Duvitski plays Jacqueline and what fun she must have playing her. Janine is a superstar and her delivery is perfect. She gets some of the best lines and we are laughing along before she often finishes her sentence.
Meanwhile Kenneth and Liam are in Blow and go when Derrick arrives introducing himself as Gay Derek (Damian Williams) and declaring his undying love for Kenneth even though he had only ever seen his picture. Kenneth is indeed flattered and yet doesn’t feel the same. Tony Maudsley plays Kenneth and makes Kenneth a key character. You cannot ignore Kenneth on stage and Tony has that talent that keeps on the right side of that fine line between Kenneth being a diva and being a bitch. Kenneth is one of my favourite characters and I personally adore his charm and confidence. Liam is played by Adam Gillen and gives a worried performance as Liam is trying to sort out some family issues at home. Liam is a strange character and at times, he almost feels autistic. It’s certainly a memorable performance – especially his singing in Neptunes!
The second half its evening and what better way to spend it than watching a cabaret show in Neptune’s bar. We are offered Mateo’s Spanish dancing. I certainly see him as a contender on Strictly next year. It was actually very good! Kenneth joined in as a female Spanish dancer which..well erm wasn’t strictly material. Poor Kenneth – I don’t think he really wanted to do it. We were blessed to hear Asa Elliott singing who seems to be too good for the Solana and a song or two from our tour rep Sam (Shelley Longworth) who is a great singer. We sung along to classic resort songs such as Rubber Ball, Shang-a-Lang (yes, I joined in loudly for this one!) and of course that Spanish classic, Viva Espania!
This show is not highbrow, in fact it is innuendo central and, in my opinion, there is not enough of this type of comedy in today’s society. It has a ‘carry on’ feel about it which is why I think it’s so loved. This show has always had a marmite following – you love it or you don’t. For me I loved it. It’s a bit like having a pot noodle. It feels naughty and sleazy and you are not sure you will regret it afterwards but you love it in the moment. Trust me you will love this long after your pot noodle is gone. This show is a true modern gem of comedy. Feel very privileged if you have a ticket. The Solana is going to have a busy week!
The truth is I would have the exact same reaction of Sophie on visiting the Solana. I would also be nagging to go to a better hotel. The whole reason that Benidorm is funny is because we are laughing at the misfortune of Sophie, Ben et al as they suffer such awful service from staff who are rather self-centred. Of course, as it’s a show we adore those self-centred characters and that is what makes Benidorm so loved by so many.
So if you are fed up in the rain, come to Milton Keynes Theatre this week and enjoy a bit of Benidorm instead!
Benidorm is showing at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 20 October.