THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL

How well can a box office cinema hit be translated to the stage? Indeed how well can a best selling novel be translated to the silver screen? Taking Deborah Moggach’s story of ageing on those two journeys is to say the least and ambitious project and one that the producers have invested heavily in with a stellar and accomplished cast and a lavish staging.

So how does it fare?

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL by MOGGACH, , writer – DEBORAH MOGGACH based on the film and novel,
Lucy Bailey – Director, Colin Richmond – Set & Costume Design, Oliver Fenwick – Lighting Design
Kuljit Bhamra – Original Musical Composition
Uk tour 2020, Credit: Johan Persson/

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL by MOGGACH, , writer – DEBORAH MOGGACH based on the film and novel,
Lucy Bailey – Director, Colin Richmond – Set & Costume Design, Oliver Fenwick – Lighting Design
Kuljit Bhamra – Original Musical Composition
Uk tour 2020, Credit: Johan Persson/

Let’s start at the beginning as we see mother and son mourning the loss of the patriarch in the flickering light of his funeral pyre before cutting almost cinematically to the airport queue as the future residents of the run-down Marigold Hotel prepare to embark on what could be seen as their  penultimate if not final journey.

They’re a disparate bunch, from upper class, to working class to up their own… well you get the idea. Thrown together by a need to find either a better life, cheaper life, a past life or even a future life with a new husband or wife.

But that tale of ageing in the first half is terribly slow and lacking in incident, so much time is spent on setting up the large number of characters that the pace is slow and in itself rather ageing. That said, the cast are first class with not a weak member amongst them and visually the set and the lighting are both stunning, but when it is the set and the lighting that grasps your attention then perhaps the story is lagging behind.

The second half moves far more briskly along as the story unfolds, characters reveal their reasons for being there, plot twists play out and the cast finally get to show their talents. It’s this imbalance between the first and second half that lets this potentially good production down, that and some rather wooden transitions and less than fluent dialogue.

The company though is strong, it’s great to see and hear seasoned theatre professionals like Hayley Mills, Paul Nicholas, Rula Lenska, Richenda Carey, Andy de la Tour, Marlene Sidaway and many more on such good form and the younger members of the company are equally professional and engaging. Rekha John-Cheriyan is particularly good as Mrs Kapoor, Harmage Singh Kalirai plays his role with touching reserve and Nishad More is genuinely believable as Sonny, the son left behind to look after a parent in a society where traditionally older generations are kept close and looked after especially now his siblings have fled to new lives in the supposedly civilised west. And this is the core of the story, or it should be.

This production has the makings of being rather good and in fairness it is very new, only a few weeks in. But to be good it needs to pick up pace and engage the audience in the first half.

Andrew Kay

21/9/22

Theatre Royal Brighton

Rating: ★★★☆☆



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