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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - Curve Review

Deborah Moggach’s novel These Foolish Things has inspired a Hollywood feature film and a sequel, a television series and now it heads to the stage. 

The company of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Photo by Johan Persson

The premise of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is that in India a family-run home is falling apart and racking up debts. One day they have the idea to open it up as a retirement hotel for British people and from here the story of the show begins. As the show goes on and the problems aren't resolved it turns to the retirees to save the hotel and secure its future.

The show transports an audience to India from the get-go with Kuljit Bhamra’s sumptuous score and Colin Richmond’s superb set and costumes. Richmond manages to stage the hotel and its current state well, with holes in the roof and greenery growing in places it shouldn’t. It’s a very visually pleasing piece to watch although it lacks a bit of vibrancy. 

The show introduces a quirky mix of characters as they land in India to start the next chapter of their lives. Each character has their own quirks and uniqueness and these are captured well by a talented cast. Some of the characters are more difficult than others and some of the language contains a few stereotypes that are difficult to navigate.

It's a strong company of actors, all of whom impress in the way they portray the roles. There's some great intergenerational bonding between the ages that play out well though certain strands of the plot become a little less believable. 

The company of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Photo by Johan Persson

The central message of the show is one of taking life by the horns regardless of age. That 80 isn’t just sitting around waiting for the inevitable end that approaches on the horizon. It is about living and the characters in the show go on their own unique journeys. 

These journeys are played off with frequent talk of loss, aging and death but often there's a quick quip that lifts the mood so that the piece never becomes too heavy. If there was ever the theatrical equivalent of Sunday afternoon TV then this is it.

The show does take a certain slower pace in line with the characters and their age. Though the transitions between scenes could be quicker. The first act is a little clunky and the second act has a lot of work to do to wrap up all the strands but in the end, everything reaches a satisfying conclusion.

For those with some familiarity with the book or the film, they'll leave content. It’s funny and heartwarming without being anything remarkable.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel plays at Curve until Saturday 5th November 2022. Tickets are available from The show tours with dates booking until the Spring of 2023. Visit to book.

Hayley Mills and Evelyn and Rula Lenska as Madge. Photo by Johan Persson

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