Review in ‘The Fiction Maker’.
The sound of Spanish Flamenco music lures you up the stairs into a world of gloriously crappy plastic chairs and endless cups of coffee by the pool. It all feels a bit like one of the cosy sitcoms from the 70’s has taken its Christmas special abroad. And it’s no wonder as writer John Waterhouse acknowledges the heritage that How to Relax in Andalucía is built on in the programme notes. That influence of sitcoms from the 60s and 70s is evident in the jokes of mistaken identity and innuendo that are evident in this gag-a-minute script.
Karl Seth’s Peter is parachuted into a holiday that spirals out of his control. A cross between Victor Meldrew and Duty Free’s David Pearce, his desperation to concentrate on his reading and roving eye get him into no end of trouble as he tackles gangsters, amorous advances and kidnappers in this comic caper.
Seth is helplessly captivating and hits the comic highlights especially with some of the physical comedy of the second half. Natalie Husdan’s Carol is utterly outrageous as she vamps up some of the best lines whilst Nicole Gaskell’s Saskia is ruthlessly flirty providing much hilarity with her constant mispronunciation Abigail Hibbert provides solid support as waitress Christina, coming into her own in the second half whilst Amir Rahimzadeh is coolly menacing as ‘Det. Insp.’ Wilson.
Less successful is the second half. The long build up to the gags is worth it – but only just. It all goes a bit Confessions of.. in the second half to moderate success. Director David Samuels keeps the tone light and comedic and for the large part is successful. It is only this uneven second half that threatens to curb the pleasant tone. The sudden delve into characterisation is not in keeping with the slapstick events of the first half and jars leaving you itching to get back to the comedy.
How to Relax in Andalucía is a charming sun-drenched throwback to a more gentle time of comedy. Less brash than Benidorm, How to Relax in Andalucía is a worthwhile and faithful venture to capture the slapstick yarns of times gone past. Fans of classic British comedy would be advised for a check in to witness this Costa del Comedy.