The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

“A light-hearted look at how adventure is still achievable even in your golden years”.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is best known for the 2011 British comedy-drama film starring a plethora of seasoned performers, such as Bill Nighy, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith on their quest to find adventure and a different way of life by moving to a “retirement hotel” in India.

Written by Deborah Moggach and based on her novel ‘These Foolish Things’ this stage production directed by Lucy Bailey really does cement the fact that adventure is still achievable, even in your golden years.  The staging sets the scene from the start taking you inside the slightly dilapidated hotel which under the management of Mrs Kapoor (Rekha John-Cheriyan) and her son Sonny (Nishad More) requires a boost of funds after the death of Mr Kapoor.  Sonny decides to open up the hotel to an older generation of guests and there arrives a multitude of English guests, all with their own story to tell.

The cast is filled with well known performers such as Paul Nicholas who plays the rather henpecked Douglas.  Alongside Eileen Battye who plays his wife Jean, all is not what it seems in their ‘perfect marriage’ and a new romance beckons with Evelyn (Tessa Peake-Jones), a character who arrives quite shy, but blossoms in her new surroundings. 

We also meet Norman played by Graham Seed, a man scorned, as we find out throughout the show.  His goal from the trip is to bag a younger female companion and much to his best efforts doesn’t quite achieve his goal.  Belinda Lang brings us the hilarious and ‘no filter’ Madge, a glamorous lady who is also out for love, however she has her sights set rather higher with a ‘Maharaja’ being her preferred suitor.  Marlene Sidaway as Muriel is my favourite character of the night with plenty of witty recourse between the rest of the guests and staff at the hotel.  Finally, we meet Dorothy played by Paola Dionisotti who is slightly mysterious in her reasoning for being at the hotel.

The relationship between Mrs Kapoor (Rekha John-Cheriyan) and her son, Sonny (Nishad More) seems a familiar stereotype of an Indian mother and her son and it was played to wonderful comedic effect.  Sonny’s love interest Sahani (Shila Iqbal) was not the woman Mrs Kapoor had envisaged her son marrying, but after realising that you should marry for love, their relationship was allowed to bloom.

The show, as a whole, is very wholesome and heart-warming.  I did find however that as there were so many different stories to take in from each of the characters, the show seemed to flit from one to the other and we couldn’t really get too invested in each of the characters.  There were a lot of scenes to try and fit in and on occasion it felt that very small amounts of dialogue were slotted in, when the previous scene hadn’t really had its chance to fully blossom.    I couldn’t fault the acting of all performers and the script had been cleverly constructed to include some very funny moments concerning the mix between the English and Indian cultures.

The premise of the play is to prove that life is definitely worth living and that you are never too old to be taking on new adventures. Friendships and relationships were made, and happiness was the order of the evening.  This show has a warm feel, and not just due to the Indian climate, with plenty of humour and some wonderful performances.

This show was reviewed on the 29th March 2023 and runs at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until the 1st April 2023.  Tickets available here: THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL | Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Full tour details can be found here: Home - The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (marigoldshow.com)

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