REVIEW: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2023) Royal & Derngate, Northampton

A splendid display of self-discovery, fresh starts, and new horizons – no matter how long of a time you’ve been young!


Press tickets for review

Embark on an exhilarating and uplifting trip to Bangalore, India as a group of retired British pensioners pack their bags to ditch the weather, lifestyle and financial crunch of Britain behind to live in the financial crumbling Marigold Hotel.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has now opened in the Derngate at Royal & Derngate, Northampton and if you’re looking for an underrated piece of theatre which relies heavily on ‘boomer humour‘ then this is your cup of tea.

I use boomer humour in the most loving of ways. It was definitely the kind of humour that my grandparents would have enjoyed. So much so, that I just envisioned elements of my own grandparents in Muriel (Marlene Sidaway) and Norman (Graham Seed).

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a great easy watch. It never asks too much of the incredibly talented cast and it doesn’t require too much thinking. My analogy is it’s the soaps of the theatre. You could step away and still be able to dive back in and enjoy and know what’s going on.

The play is based on the Deborah Moggach novel: These Foolish Things and was also created into two popular movies. Unsurprisingly, the biggest buzz for the theatre show was on the grounds of being a fan of the movie which stars Maggie Smith and Judi Dench.

The set for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is absolutely incredible. Bravo to Colin Richmond! Truly such a stunning set and feels a main character in its own rights. I kept finding myself scanning the set and admiring how well constructed it was, from the cracks to show the lack of funds, the palm trees and the archways. The set seemed to go back for miles and the attention to detail was astounding.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham Picture by Mikal Ludlow Photography

You might recognise Tessa Peake-Jones as Raquel from Only Fools and Horses. She was unsurprisingly wonderful as the sweet and reserved Evelyn who shows wonderful character evolution as she gives absolute main character energy come Act 2.

I enjoyed the relationship bloom between Sahani (Shila Iqbal) and Sonny (Nishad More) and found their coupling endearing. The growth of their relationship despite financial and cultural limitations was interesting to watch and we, including the residents, were all rooting for them. The overdramatic and overpowering Mrs Kapoor was demonstrated wonderfully by Rekha John-Cheriyan. I especially enjoyed the heart-to-heart between Mrs Kapoor and Muriel (Marlene Sidaway).

Norman (Graham Seed) was fantastically berating and irritating as the old boy who hogged the newspaper. Although taking a rather backseat to the storyline, he was great for the odd one liner and played a pinnacle role in the end when it came to the arranged marriage!

Although the storyline was somewhat one-dimensional, I truly enjoyed the performance. In an alternate world, I would have loved to see the dottiness of Dorothy (Paola Dionisotti) progress differently into a deep reflection on dementia and how this might’ve played out, especially as Jimmy (Kriss Dosanj) starts to reflect Dorothys’ actions.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham Picture by Mikal Ludlow Photography

My personal favourite was Madge (Belinda Lang). I truly felt she stole the show for me. I loved her ‘I don’t give a ****’ attitude and she fully relished in her role being the reason for most of the laughs from the audience.

I had read a few people stating that the show wouldn’t appeal to the younger generation, however, both myself and Alex were laughing along and enjoyed the show. I found it an uplifting viewpoint that growing old is graceful, wonderful and something to be cherished. I enjoyed getting that insight and immersing in the feel that travel doesn’t stop once you get older, in fact, we could take a leaf out of all of their books.

The love of travel from Douglas and Jean (Paul Nicholas and Eileen Battye), the vulnerability and openness to try something new from Evelyn, the courage to go against the social norms from Mrs Kapoor and Sonny and the go get it attitude from Madge!

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel truly is a gentle viewing. There’s lovely music, authentic choreography and an incredibly talented cast with heaps of experience. It’s not overly dramatic neither is it highly emotional. Instead, it’s as soothing and gentle as kicking back on holiday with our favourite pastime… people-watching with a drink! And now, isn’t that something we all love?

Derngate, Northampton 9 MAY – 13 MAY
Running time: 2h 30 (including a 20 min interval)

Written by Deborah Moggach
Directed by Lucy Bailey
Set and costume designed by Colin Richmond
Lighting designed by Oliver Fenwick
Composed by Kuljit Bhamra
Produced by Simon Friend Entertainment


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