REVIEW: Live life to the full by booking into The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at Milton Keynes Theatre
and live on Freeview channel 276
Life’s too short not to make the most of every moment. That’s the resounding message from the stage production of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – and the audience certainly seemed to enjoy every moment of this feel-good production at Milton Keynes Theatre on press night (Wednesday).
Based on the Sunday Times bestseller These Foolish Things which inspired one of this century’s most treasured films (which I hadn’t seen), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel takes us on a journey to India with an eclectic group of British retirees as they embark on a new life.
“Adventure before dementia” was one of the soundbites from a script littered with charm and humour (some a little crude!), while also pressing home the fact that old age has many advantages which can outweigh the disadvantages given a positive outlook.
It would have resonated particularly with the large proportion of the audience who were in their more advanced years, but also gave us younger folk plenty to mull over - as age catches up with us all!
Expecting a luxury residence, the group are somewhat taken aback upon arrival in India when their new home is not quite how it was portrayed in the brochure – with broken phones, poor wifi, crumbling walls, and toadstools in their rooms among the many flaws.
All the hotel’s failings will be “fixed in a jiffy” promises young hotel manager Sonny Kapoor (played by the excellent Nishad More) who spends most of the time trying to please his widowed mother at the expense of following his heart and consequently letting down call centre girl Sahani (Shila Iqbal).
This play deals with many realities of old age – falls, farts and forgetfulness, offering wisdom to the young generation, plus bereavement and the realisation that time is precious.
The hotel staff comment soon after Brits’ arrival “they look half dead already” which may seem a touch cruel, but then the wrinklies also have a number of rather morbid lines such as “I wonder which of us will be the first to go?”.
The production stars Hayley Mills (Wild at Heart, Pollyanna, The Parent Trap), Paul Nicholas (Jesus Christ Superstar, Just Good Friends, Eastenders) and Paula Wilcox (The Lovers, Coronation Street, Trying). But my favourite cast member was Muriel (Marlene Sidaway) who declared early on “I like the sun, it makes me happy” – although you wouldn’t have believed it at the time she uttered that line as she was a right grump, although like her chums she slowly warmed to the surroundings.
As the group adapt they begin to expand their horizons, trying local delicacies, venturing outside the walls of the hotel, and even questioning their long-standing relationships.
Months down the line they are nicely settled in, only to have the rug pulled from under them, with the hotel’s future in doubt.
But they fight to save it from being transformed into a call centre with the forceful Madge (Rula Lenska) giving developer Mr Gupla (Tiran Aakel) a tough time, declaring “one of the good things about getting old is I don’t give a ****!” as she makes her feelings on the matter clear.
I was accompanied to the play by my daughter, currently studying creative media at college, and she was really impressed by the set and stage lighting which brilliantly set the mood, and helped immerse the audience into believing they really were in Bangalore.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel runs until Saturday (January 28). For ticket see here.