Review: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Curve.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at the Curve

An endearing story about making the most of life

The popular novel and 2012 film has been transformed for the stage by writer Deborah Moggach, and is currently touring the UK before joining the West End.

Directed by Lucy Bailey, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel follows a collection of pensioners, who for various reasons have decided it’s best to live out their days in India. When they arrive they discover it’s not quite the opulent resort promised in the brochure, but stick around anyway and the audience gets the pleasure of watching them all individually open up as well as bonding as a group.

This star-studded cast includes Hayley Mills as gentle lonely widow Evelyn, smugly adventurous couple Jean and Dougy (Julie Wood & Paul Nichols), mysterious Dorothy (Richenda Carey) and Andy de la Tour as divorced Norman who’s on the prowl for a younger woman. An audience favourite with a similar approach is vivacious Madge (Rula Lenska), hunting for a maharajah to be husband number four. Muriel (Marlene Sidaway) is just as sharp-tongued and a real delight to watch as she broadens her horizons and reluctantly explores all India has to offer.

The younger cast members are equally spirited, Nishard More playing a passionate Sonny, desperate to restore his inherited hotel to former glory, and Shila Iqbal is utterly charming as Sonny’s love interest Sahani. Rekha John-Cheriyan is the highlight of many scenes as Sonny’s melodramatic mother Mrs Kapoor, desperate to find her son a good girl to marry.

As with any large cast production, the group dynamic is essential and the ensemble comes together brilliantly for some sweet intergenerational side plots.

The story itself seems to have been updated slightly from the films – there certainly would not have been that many Zoom references a few years ago! – but still offers plenty of laughs weaved in with some social commentary on British families and our care system, although with some elements of white saviourism which don’t sit quite right.

Colin Richmond’s set design is faultless. After a brief opening scene in the darkness, introducing us to the grieving family, the curtain lifts to reveal the stunning set. The beautifully dilapidated hotel is all archways and ivy, complemented by Oli Fenwick’s lighting transporting us through the days. Soundscapes from Mic Pool and music composed by Kuljit Bhamra completes the immersion.

While favoured by the older generation, presumably for the relatable punchlines, the show is still sweet and humorous for all ages.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is performing at The Curve until 5th November. Tickets can be purchased here https://www.curveonline.co.uk/whats-on/shows/the-best-exotic-marigold-hotel/

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