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  • Writer's pictureNeill Kovacic-Clarke


🎭 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

📍 The Lyric, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2TR

🗓 Wednesday 19th April 2023



Based on the Sunday Times bestseller These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel celebrates growing old disgracefully as a group of retirees seek love, friendship and a new lease of life.

Last night I was once again at Theatre Royal Plymouth and I was really looking forward to this show. I don't know the novel or the movies but I was excited by the cast list. I grew up in the 80's and 90's watching many of the stars of this production on television with my late mum and was intrigued to see them brought together for this.

This production stands alone and proves that with good writing you don't need any prior knowledge of a piece to enjoy the performance. It's never going to set the world alight and will probably always remain a touring production, but this is an easy watch and is a great show to take your parents and grandparents along to.

Production Image: Tessa Peake-Jones; Paola Dionisotti; Shila Iqbal; Belinda Lang

This production is definitely not high-octane, but what it lacks in action is more than made up for with warmth and sincerity.

After the death of her husband, Mrs Kapoor and her son Sonny contemplate the future of their dilapidated hotel. In a make or break scenario, Sonny decides to change the business into a retirement residence and soon the first occupants arrive on a flight from London.

The group of seven are an eclectic mix, and they all have their reasons for swapping England for India. One thing's for sure, they're not ready to give up on life just yet!

Paul Nicholas and Eileen Battye are married couple Douglas and Jean. Jean likes to drag Douglas on excursions and becomes jealous of his blossoming friendship with fellow resident Evelyn, played by Tessa Peake-Jones.

Nicholas gives a strong and confident performance and Peake-Jones gave the standout performance for me as the kind and motherly character who sees a change in herself as she pushes personal boundaries and leads a revolution!

Production Image: Tessa Peake-Jones; Paul Nicholas

I loved the sass of Belinda Lang as Madge and Graham Seed was great as the slightly unlikeable Norman. The best comic role was Muriel, convincingly played by Marlene Sidaway.

Paola Dionisotti as Dorothy is the final member of the group and is not as 'Dotty' as the others think she is! She has a deeply personal reason for wanting to be in India which is touching to watch.

Rekha John-Cheriyan is sublime as the over-bearing and domineering widow and mother. Nishad More as her son Sonny gave a brilliant performance and the romance between him and Shila Iqbal as Sahari was endearing and beautifully acted.

The supporting cast of Harmage Singh Kalirai, Anant Varman, Tiran Aakel and Kerena Jagpal were all wonderful and I liked that every cast member took their bows at the same time as this was truly an ensemble piece.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a joyous comedy which pulls at the heartstrings and makes you realise that it's never too late to start a new life or to fall in love. Fall in love is exactly what I did with this beautifully constructed and sublimely acted piece of theatre.

The production is performing at Theatre Royal Plymouth until Saturday 22nd April. Head to to check availability and to book tickets.

Neill Kovacic-Clarke

All views are my own and I pride myself on being open, honest and free from influence.

My tickets for this performance were gifted by Theatre Royal Plymouth who invited me to review the production. The fact that my tickets were gifted played no part in my star rating for this review.

Production Image: The Company


Tessa Peake-Jones as Evelyn; Paul Nicholas as Douglas; Belinda Lang as Madge; Graham Seed as Norman; Nishad More as Sonny; Rekha John-Cheriyan as Mrs Kapoor; Shila Iqbal as Sahani; Paola Dionisotti as Dorothy; Marlene Sidaway as Muriel; Tiran Aakel as Mr Gupta / Fernandes; Eileen Battye as Jean; Harmage Singh Kalirai as Jimmy / Sadhu / Waiter; Anant Varman as Mohan / Tikal; Kerena Jagpal as Kamila

RUNNING TIME (approx):

2 hours 30 minutes, including interval


Mild Language; Smoking



The mission of Theatre Royal Plymouth is to develop and deepen people's engagement with pioneering creativity in Plymouth and the South West, delivering experiences that spark delight, expression and fulfilment. The venue is the principle home of the performing arts in the South West and is the country's largest and most attended regional producing theatre.


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