The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – Bord Gais Energy Theatre – Review

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – Bord Gais Energy Theatre – Review
by Frank L.

16 – 20 May 2023
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – Written by Deborah Moggach
Produced by Simon Friend Entertainment

Moggach adapted her 2004 novel “These Foolish Things” to create the 2011 smash hit film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. This new stage adaptation shares the same name as the film. The hotel’s former existence as a colonial home in Bangalore is long in the past. Its continued existence even as a hotel is uncertain and and it is in decline. The play starts with the death of the owner with the capable widow Mrs Kapoor (Rekha John-Cheriyan) taking over with her ineffectual son Sonny (Nishad More) to help her out. In order to keep it going they are about to welcome an unlikely group of baby boomers who are unable for a variety of reasons able to keep going in the UK. Their dwindling finances will stretch further in India and so they are going to make a new life in the Marigold Hotel in Bangalore.

The group are seven in number with Norman (Patrick Bergin), Muriel (Rosaleen Linehan), Evelyn (Tessa Peake-Jones), Douglas (Paul Nicholas), Jean (Eileen Battye), Madge (Belinda Lang) and Dorothy (Paola Dionisotti).  Each has a past which they reveal to a greater or lesser extent and at times with additions or subtractions for their own good reasons. What they have in common is a spirit to make the best of their new life in this unlikely hotel with their new acquaintances. Meanwhile, Mrs Kapoor and Sonny’s lives have to adjust also. These two worlds touch and create the backdrop for the action. The play makes no secret of the fact that India has far more time for its older generation than the so-called more civilised values of the Western world.

The set designed by Colin Richmond is an imposing world of courtyard, verandahs and impressive staircases. It is a building of some complexity and is a delight to behold. The director Lucy Bailey uses the entirety of it to full effect and also manages with the inventive use of laptops and portable tables and chairs to create the different world of a call centre. Contemporary India barges into the rickety world of India’s colonial past.

The first half is somewhat slow as each of the characters reveals a certain amount of their back story but the second half when these stories intertwine creates a vibrant world of new opportunities and a determination to be adventurous. It is this adventurous ingredient which gives the play its surprising dynamic because the age of each of the actors who comprise the group of tourists is substantial. Well-known to Dublin audiences, it is good to see Rosaleen Linehan and Patrick Bergin still strutting the boards. Linehan has a fine short sequence when she is faced with eating a foreign delicacy. Her comic touch remains triumphant.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a statement that advanced years are not a barrier to discovering new experiences. It does so in the tricky world of India and its post-colonial past. Its underlying premise is unlikely but that is what gives it its strength. It is a play which creates a positive attitude towards retirement and old age, which is no mean feat.

Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

Tagged as:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.