REVIEW: “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”

Kenny Smith reviews The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow.

HANDS UP – I have to admit, I’ve never seen the hit film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

However, I do know about it and its basic concept, which sees an eclectic group of British retirees travel to India to embark on a new life.

There, they discover the luxury residence is far from the opulence they were promised, but as their lives begin to intertwine, they are charmed in unexpected and life-changing ways.

Most of my knowledge of the film has come from the BBC series The Real Marigold Hotel, which saw a series of celebrities – including national treasure Miriam Margolyes, darts player Bobby George, newsreader Jan Leeming, and former Doctor Who Sylvester McCoy – travel to India to live there for a while, and see if they would fancy retiring there, whilst sampling local culture, meeting the people and discovering how to relax in maturity.

One of those who made the trip was actor Paul Nicholas, and in a twist of fate, here he was on stage at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow, alongside an icon of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe-Award winner Hayley Mills, with the pair playing husband and wife Douglas and Evelyn, with Rula Lenska as the man-eating Madge.

Members of the disparate group learn lots about themselves – and each other – as they have their eyes opened when living in a different culture, in a gentle comedy that had the audience laughing along with the jokes – an audience, it has to be said, which was very much on the silver side of life.

The set is impressive, as we get to see the hotel on stage, with walkways, staircases and the office, with excellent sound design and atmospheric music to set the tone.

But the real stars are the cast, all of whom brought so much charm to their parts, especially Nishard More as the poor set-upon Sonny Kapoor, living under the same roof as his tyrannical mother, Mrs Kapoor (Rekha John-Cheriyan). Your heart can’t help but go out to him.

The younger cast, Shila Iqbal as Sahani, Sonny’s love interest, is bursting with charisma, as is Kerena Jagpal as her friend Kamila.

You may not recognise the name of Andy de la Tour, but he’s one of those faces who’s been an ever-present on our screens for decades, who brings Norman to life with an effortless charm, with Richenda Carey as the mysterious Dorothy – and just what is her connection to Jimmy, played by the wonderful Harmage Singh Kalirai, who brings a world-weariness to the part.

Honestly, it’s a great cast who were evidently having as much time on stage as the audience were watching them perform.

The show is touring the UK before it arrives in London for a run in the West End.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, until tomorrow.

Plus, read more news and reviews on Scottish Field’s culture pages.