The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

by | Oct 31, 2022 | Featured, Reviews, Theatre

Norwich Theatre Royal

Based on the hit film of the same name, this professional touring show comes to Norwich with some big names: Hayley Mills, Rula Lenska and Paul Nichols!

It’s a great story: a failing hotel in Bangalore tries a becoming a retirement hotel, encouraging older generation from England to live out their remaining years in India rather than fading away back home.

The hotel’s first intake of bookings are five singles and one couple, all strangers who like the idea of being in a warm climate in a hotel instead of rotting away in the UK.

Evelyn (Hayley Mills), is a quiet, subdued lady who seems frightened of most things. Her confidence grows as she makes new friends and starts to enjoy life. Madge (Rula Lenska) wants to find a rich man to keep her in the lifestyle she is accustomed to. Douglas (Paul Nichols) is married to Jean (Eileen Battye) and although we think they have a good adventurous marriage, Douglas is just dragged along. Dorothy (Richenda Carey) acts very strange, however all comes clear as she reveals her past. Norman (Andy Dr La Tour) is looking for a younger model and pretends he is a widow to hide his shame. Muriel (Marlene Sidaway) is constantly cranky as she hates the food.

The hotel owners also have their stories: Mrs Kappor (Rekha John-Cheriyan) can’t cope with the hotel since her husband died. Her son, Sonny (Nishad More), is the one with the idea of getting the old British people in and he is in love with Sahani (Shila Iqbal) but they keep it secret as he’s supposed to have an arranged marriage.

I must mention the set – the biggest and most elaborate set I’ve seen. It was fabulous, and allowed nearly every scene in the film/book to be portrayed. Outside scenes, inside scenes, balcony, veranda, stairs….so many areas which flowed into each other allowing any scene change to be smooth, almost invisible and yet not restrictive, which can happen when a story is adapted to the stage.

It’s a big cast and all the characters have their backstories to get through, however it keeps the play jogging along very nicely and there is time to delve deep and become emotionally attached. All the cast have film and TV credits which meant all the performances were high quality.

There is plenty of comedy along the way, with the culture clashes, the inner workings of an Indian call centre, a hotel that’s falling apart, the subtlety and frankness of old folk and a few twists to keep you guessing. It’s a delightful heart-warming play with strong underlying messages: it’s never too late to have an adventure, to learn new things, to take risks, to make new friends and never too late to find happiness.

Click for listings at Norwich Theatre Royal



  • Hayley Clapperton

    Hayley is a business co-owner working too many hours so it's a good job she's passionate about it. Hayley's down time is music, music and music of all types and she enjoys going to gigs, listening to new bands and breathing in the energy it creates.

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