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Deborah Moggach at Opening of Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in Shrewsbury
16 Mar 2023

The author Deborah Moggach was in Shrewsbury last night for the opening of her new stage show The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which is at Theatre Severn from March 16 - 18. My Shrewsbury's Rachael Dorrell brings back this review. 

Let The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel transport you to the warm and humble climes of India, right here in Shrewsbury.

Prior to its West End residency, the new stage show by Deborah Moggach (who was in the audience last night) is based on her novel that inspired the blockbuster film, and is now on tour and opened at Theatre Severn this week.

The packed audience were treated to an all-star cast, including the likes of Paul Nicholas (Jesus Christ Superstar, Just Good Friends, Eastenders), Tessa Peake-Jones (Only Fools and Horses) and Belinda Lang (2 Point 4 Children, Oklahoma!), who made up the eclectic group of British retirees who travel to India for an alternative retirement plan.

The cast of Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in action

L-R Tessa Peake Jones (Evelyn), Paola Dionisotti (Dorothy), Shila Iqbal (Sahini) and Belinda Lang (Madge)

Fans of the film will notice some plot twists and character swaps, but the basic essence of the story about embracing second chances, finding love and reminiscing younger years, remains prevalent throughout.

The one set play focused on the ‘hotel’ itself and involved clever scene changes – enough of a shift to know it was a different place but without the need to dramatise moving sets around. 

It isn’t a fast-paced play full of sights and sounds to feast the senses, but due to the brilliant casting, the story is told beautifully and you become entwined with the theme. 

Tessa Peake-Jones and Paul Nicholas

Tessa Peake-Jones as Evelyn and Paul Nicholas as Douglas

Albeit a comedy, the play is underpinned by sadness and is, at times, quite emotive. With references to death, lost loves, Alzheimer’s and the cultural nods to the pressures and complications of arranged marriages, any superficiality that may come with the light-hearted nature is undone. But that in no way stops it from being an enjoyable, thought provoking experience. 

It was impossible to leave the theatre without a smile on your face and feeling humble. Being treated to a finale of a full cast Bhangra dance routine contributed to the joy and cemented the message that you’re never too old to try new things.

  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is at Theatre Severn's Main Auditorium from Thursday, March 16 to Saturday, March 18 (multiple showtimes, including matinees). Tickets £13 (restricted view) to £36 HERE