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You’ve seen the film, now catch the stage play. Based on bestselling novel These Foolish Things, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was a huge cinematic hit back in 2011 - and if you loved the movie, it’s a near certainty that this touring production will also strike all the right notes with you.    

For those not in the know, the story revolves around a group of British seniors who, for a variety of reasons, relocate to Jaipur, India, to sample a new life in a retirement hotel. The luxury residence is not as opulent as promised - there are plumbing problems, a leaking roof, mould and a drunk and bad-tempered chef to contend with, to name but a few of the issues...

But the poor state of the hotel doesn’t stop a joyous, heartwarming, funny yet poignant story unfolding, beautifully presented by a star-studded cast led by Hayley Mills as Evelyn - a bewildered and cash-strapped widow - Paul Nicholas as Douglas - a beleaguered husband no longer in love with his overbearing wife - and Rula Lenska as Madge - a vivacious woman searching for a maharajah to be her fourth husband! 

As the lives of the retirees begin to intertwine, they are charmed in many unexpected and life-changing ways, none more so than retired cleaner and widow Muriel (Marlene Sidaway), whose horizons broaden dramatically when she begins to explore all that India has to offer.

The hotel is run by the hapless Sonny (Nishad Moor) a young man desperate to restore it to its former glory. His love interest, Sahani (Shila Iqbal), is frustrated by Sonny’s inability to prioritise her in his life. The couple’s stuttering but heartfelt romance is undermined by Sonny’s melodramatic and manipulative mother (Retha John-Cheriyan), who is desperate to find her son a rich girl to marry. These delightful characters are at the centre of many a funny moment during the course of the play and were greatly enjoyed and appreciated by last night’s audience.

Boasting an impressive set and the opportunity to enjoy some Bollywood-style music and dance, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has been adapted for the stage by Deborah Moggach, the author of the original novel, but isn’t a carbon copy of the film. Its message, however, is a similar one: You can still take risks, fall in love and embrace new adventures and second chances even when you’re of pensionable age... 

In short, life doesn’t need to stop being fun just because you’re getting old! 

4 stars

Reviewed by Sue Hull at The Alexandra, Birmingham, Wed 22 Feburary where the production runs until Sun 25 February and then at, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Tues 13 - Sat 17 June