Adapted for the stage from her best selling novel, These Foolish Things, by Deborah Moggach, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is currently on tour throughout the UK. Directed by Lucy Bailey, the ambitious production wins its audience over on several levels.
Fine acting and superb direction aside, it is the magnificent highly-detailed set and costume design by Colin Richmond that posits us immediately in Bangalore India in an old colonial house – now a shabby hotel – sheltering its newly arrived elderly occupants and their Indian hosts. Composer Kuljit Bhamra (MBE) gets the accompanying music spot on with authentic musical instruments that create diverse moods from sombre funeral intonements to lively Bhangra and much in-between. Mic Pool’s excellent sound design takes us on journeys both inside and outside the hotel and sometimes into other worldly soundscapes evoking childhood memories for two of the characters and bringing the hot vibrant city of Bangalore alive. Oliver Fenwick’s lighting design is magisterial, mystical and dramatically transporting.
The cast are a fine mix of established and recognisable actors like Hayley Mills (Evelyn), Paul Nicholas (Douglas), Rula Lenska (Madge), Andy De La Tour (Norman) and Marlene Sidaway (Muriel) and other equally good performers such as Tiran Aarkel (Mr Gupta/Fernandes the cook), Eileen Battye ((Jean), and Richenda Carey (Dorothy). Furthermore we have Rehka John-Cheriyan (Mrs Kapoor), Kriss Dosanjh (Jimmy/Sadhu/Waiter), Shila Iqbal (Sahani), Karena Jagpal (Kamila), Nishad More (Sonny Kapoor) and having a professional stage debut is Anant Varman (Tikal/Mohan). They all bring great quality to this gentle comedy -drama and anyone who loved the film version will be delighted with this show. It is not a copycat version and has a lot of depth and very believable characters. It has wit and poignancy and looks at the notion of being an older person and how a massive culture change can create new friendships abroad as well as slowly revealing hidden aspects of relationships and personalities. It is certain that you will leave the theatre uplifted and perhaps thoughtful about what you choose to do with your life as you mature. As Madge (Rula Lenska) says in the play “It’s about adventure – not dementia.” Quite so Madge.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel runs at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 11th Feb 2023.