This new play is based on the 2004 novel ‘These Foolish Things’, but is more widely known from the 2011 British smash hit film, ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’. The film had an impressive ensemble cast of acting royalty. This stage adaptation follows in its footsteps with a stellar cast including Hollywood icon Hayley Mills, Paul Nicholas and Rula Lenska.
For those who have missed the much-loved film, I will briefly fill you in (although it should be a crime to not be familiar with EVERYTHING that Dame Maggie Smith has done). Struggling to make a success of a dilapidated hotel in Bangalore, India, Sunny Kapoor turns the hotel into a retirement home for Brits craving to retire in the Indian sunshine.
The set itself was absolutely magnificent. We aren’t treated to it until several minutes in and its awe-inspiring when it is unveiled. A crumbling hotel which suggests previous grandeur with its arches fills the large Lowry stage. Being on multiple levels it is used to great effect and is used to set various different scenes with little imagination needed from the audience. Oliver Fenwick’s lighting design perfectly sections off the stage to make it feel intimate when needed, but also successfully denotes time of day/night.
This is a true ensemble piece if ever there was one, with each character having their own story. Whilst it had an impressive list of household names, it was Marlene Sidaway (Muriel) who really stole the show. Her comedic timing was spot on and she reminded me of an older relative, particularly in moments of not wanting to try more exotic foods! This really is where the piece was most successful, in moments of seeing ourselves or people we know in the characters on stage.
Deborah Moggach’s script was on the most part witty and clever, although it was let down at points by unnecessary slurs around sexuality which made me feel uncomfortable. Areas where the comedy really worked well was around relatable topics, such as where characters discuss how Britain has changed over the years. From leaving doors unlocked and community spirit to the differences in public services, all audience members felt included and could relate to at least some of what was being discussed.
I absolutely loved the dance sequence to Indian inspired music at the end. It made me think that this would have made an incredible musical. For example, scenes in the call centre could have then been elevated with an amusing song about all the frustrating things we have all experienced whilst phoning up businesses! I do hope that someone sees this opportunity in future adaptations of this story.
Full of charm and fun, this is a show that will go down a treat with audiences of a certain age. Whilst I had a great time, I can imagine that my mum and her friends would have absolutely lapped up every second!
Photo: Johan Persson
Despite starting in September, the tour is very much in its infancy with the show continuing its extensive tour across the UK & Ireland into summer 2023. You can catch The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at The Lowry until Saturday 12 November 2022. Ticket information below.
Gifted: I was invited by The Lowry to watch and review this show. All views are my own and free from influence.