I am sure you’ll have all heard of it – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a heartwarming and charming story based on a group of British retirees ending up in an entirely unexpected hotel-come-retirement-home in India. I caught it this summer at the Belgrade while on its tour and here are my thoughts!
Disclaimer: Press review CW: Discussions of Death
The audience there was of the older persuasion (I think me and my friend were the youngest duo in there!) but that’s not to say that younger people shouldn’t watch it. It only made me more empathetic to the feelings of people as they grow older. When a character mused “inside I still feel thirty-four” it made me feel particularly secure that everyone feels the same as I do on the matter of getting old and the approaching end to life.
I wouldn’t be able to list all of the incredible achievements of the actors, who all had remarkable backgrounds in soaps, theatre and film and they all were spectacular. All of them did the characters justice, with two of the most notable (for me anyway as I recognised them instantly) being Paola Dionisotti who played Dotty (who I recognised because of my love of Game of Thrones) and Tessa Peake-Jones (who played Raquel in Only Fools and Horses). They both played really lovable characters… plus I find it so cool seeing TV actors on stage!
I really loved the British humour with the light touch of ‘typical’ British Indian family humour too. The overbearing mother and doting son, the politeness, the miscommunication and misunderstandings because British people absolutely don’t say what they mean, and don’t listen when people do! As I mentioned, it was really charming and had the audience laughing out loud a lot. The sets were colourful and bright, movements of props on- and off-stage were fluid and didn’t break immersion. It was a great bit of theatre!
Shining a light on the caste system, British ignorance, the disparity between the young and the old (in both India and Britain), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was a fantastic story that challenges our relationship to our elderly. Those who have been forgotten by the young, those who are ‘past it’, those who are invisible to us. It is a story that really lends itself to theatre and as such I enjoyed every minute of it – even if the theatre felt like an Indian hotel in this humid weather we’re having!