Sunday, September 24

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh 

The stage adaptation of this popular film is a gentle immersion into a foreign world where a group of retired Brits take a leap of faith and look for a cost-effective and adventurous way to eek out their days. I relaxed so much I forgot I was reviewing! The acting is spot on, and the fun is sprinkled evenly throughout. This cast received whoops and hollers of appreciation at the end from a less than full auditorium, indicating the niche appeal of a drama about oldies.

Deborah Moggach’s 2004 novel, These Foolish Things, and the 2011 film version, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, transfers well to the stage where Colin Richmond’s multi-levelled set gives the whole a sense of space and potential for what lies behind. The flip from hotel to call centre is done with effective simplicity. Both stage designer, Colin Richmond, and lighting by Oliver Fenwick, deserve praise. The music, composed by Kuljit Bhamra added exotic texture with a delightful spot of Bhangra music to marry the UK/Indian connection (Bhangra music is a UK invention, it seems).

Director, Lucy Bailey offers us an entertaining, witty and well paced evening of theatre. I found the humour perfectly pitched and relevant. The script was different to the film version and, therefore, fresh. It brought a smile to this oldie’s chops who thoroughly enjoyed escaping into fantasy land and wondering should I visit India before it’s too late.

It is a feel-good show which covers serious themes with a light touch – outsourcing to cheap labour; loss of identity as you age and become frail or financially insecure as both Muriel (Marlene Sidaway) and Evelyn (Tessa Peake-Jones of Only Fools and Horses fame) find themselves; the difficulty of finding love when the sheen of a youthful body has long gone is a problem for both Norman (Graham Seed) and Madge (Belinda Lang); how to survive (or not) a stale marriage (Eileen Battye and Paul Nicholas) ; surviving the loss of a loved one and overcoming regrets. The struggling Mrs Kapoor, whose husband has passed away is deftly played by Rekha John-Cheriyan.

The problems of the elderly is contrasted with the younger characters of Tikal, Sonny and Sahana, ably played by Anant Varman, Nishad More and Shila Iqbal respectively.

For a pleasant evening of gentle wit and escapism, it serves up a treat.

Playing until 3rd June,

Reviewer: Kathleen Mansfield

Reviewed: 31st May 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.