Reviewed by Jodie Crawford
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
he Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is based on the novel “These Foolish Things” by Deborah Moggach, and was inspired by the blockbuster film.
The play follows the journey of seven characters, from different walks of life, who have travelled to India to live out their retirement in a more exotic environment, or so they think. Sonny (Noshad More) and his mother ( Rekha John-Cheriyan) own the hotel residence but are struggling to work together and agree on what their plans for the future should be. They don’t always see eye to eye, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.
The accommodation is not quite what the brochure had led the visitors to believe, but along the way bonds are formed, and a plan is hatched to put the hotel on the map.
The cast is a joy, so many legends of the stage and screen together on one stage. The script is joyful and witty. And while the jokes are intended for the more ageing members of the audience, there is something in there for everyone.
The chemistry between characters on the stage is sweet and charming. Hayley Mills, plays the meek and mild Evelyn, who grows braver and braver as she realises that her voice is meant to be heard. Mills is a great joy to behold, she is slick and her presence is felt all through the auditorium.
Rula Lenska, brings us Madge, and with her performance comes many laughs, she is a master of her craft and her comic timing is impeccable. Lenska and Marlene Sidaway, who plays Muriel, have a lovely chemistry and they give us many things to laugh about throughout the production. As does Andy De La Tour as the grumpy and cricket obsessed Norman.
Paul Nicholas, (who I first saw in stage in 1991 as Barnum) is cast beautifully as Douglas, a man who is simply going through the motions of life with his wife Jean (played magnificently by Eileen Battye) he married many years ago, but who he now realises he no longer loves. Nicholas manages to make us all fall in love with a character, who essentially wants to leave his wife for someone else, how he does it I’m really not sure. But he pulls is off and we all gasp and “ahhh” when he returns for Evelyn.
This play is filled with subplots about call centres and long lost childhood friends and love marriages. But it’s simple and easy to follow. It can at times lack pace, but in a world where everything feels so heavy at the moment this productions gives us the light relief we are desperate for.
Colin Richmonds set design is an absolute highlight of this production. We are transported to India in so many ways and the lighting design by Oliver Fenwick, helps to guide the narrative. The set, lighting and sound design are seamlessly joined to transport us to India.
The dancing by the whole cast at the end was truly wonderful. It almost makes you wish the entire production was a musical.
While the show is clearly aimed at those of a certain age, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be enjoyed by us all. It’s a lovely piece of theatre, with a marvellous cast.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is on until Saturday 12th November