Tue 20 Sep – Sat 24 Sep 2022
One of my all-time favourite films has been adapted to the stage, opened in Brighton on Tuesday. I was delighted to catch ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ on the first leg of its intensive nationwide tour.
Since the passing of his father the irrepressible, enthusiastic but slightly incompetent Sunny Kapoor struggles to make the run-down Marigold Hotel In Bangalore, India viable. Despite his mother’s reservations he comes up with the idea of turning the hotel into a retirement home for the British.
Enter the cast of retirees, just like the film the stage show is littered with big names from the stage and screen. The cast of guests have a wealth of theatrical experience, and they soon have the audience invested in their transition from a life in God’s waiting room in the UK to living in and experiencing India.
Hayley Mills was catapulted into movies in the 1960s as a child star, now in her 70s she plays Evelyn a lonely widow about to forge a new life in India She is joined at the Marigold by Jean and Dougy (Julie Wood & Paul Nichols) a couple who are eager to star there next big adventure, Norman (Andy de la Tour) who isn’t adverse to a bit of local romance, and neither is Madge (Rula Lenska) as long as he is rich – a maharajah maybe. The last two guests are Muriel (Marlene Sidaway) whose initial impressions of India, the food and the heat are definitely not to her liking & Dorothy (Richenda Carey) has a secret to hide and things to discover.
Deborah Moggach’s script has deviated from the film and gives the cast new stories and adventures to unfold. The essence of the film however remains the same, you are never too old to discover something new and learn something about yourself.
The set is the crumbling colonial looking hotel and although it is solid and grandiose, it lacks the vibrancy and colour of India that the film brings. The cast of locals, led by Sunny (Nishad More), his mother, Mrs Kapoor (Rekha John-Cherisan) and girlfriend, Sahani (Shila Iqbal) provide all the cultural references thrown in with a little education.
The best exotic Marigold Hotel is a delight and very easy watching especially for people of a certain age ?. The strong message that you are NEVER too, old to have a new start, shines through and gives us all new hope and reaching for our passports
Reviewer: Sammi O’Neill