When the Marigold Hotel is advertised as an everlasting holiday for the elderly in order for a widow and her son to escape debt, it attracts the attention of an endearing group of retirees with an unfulfilled lust for life, each looking to escape the monotony of old age. Under the promise of a holiday they need never return from, they are thrown together and forced to forge undeniable friendships.
Although completely sold out, not a single person in the audience other than myself and my friend were under fifty, however I only really began to question my decision when the ladies in front cracked open a pack of mint imperials. But despite being quite a number of years off a free bus pass, when the curtain rose to reveal a set so divine, I was desperate to leave my seat and plunge right into the heart of Bangalore itself.
The play started, progressed, and ended with poking fun at the elderly, with one drawn out scene depicting the group squabbling over the sole copy of the Telegraph. Strangely these were the same kinds of people who were the only ones buying the tickets. That said, there were giggles the entire way through and at one point the gentleman behind me laughed so hard he snorted! A few jokes fell very flat, though, such as a scathing remark about Tories. Looking around the elderly middle-class audience I was unsurprised this was met with many uncomfortable shuffles.
Barely half an hour in it was clear this play possessed very little of the vibrant vivacity the trailer suggested. I’d expected it to be a bit of a Mamma Mia for the older generation but doubt soon set in. At one point, so desperate for even a tiny bit of action, I sat back in disappointment when Muriel (who had lain deathly still for a very long time) moved to pick up her book. Limited to one real backdrop, the play mostly took place in the hotel, so it often felt as if scenes were being dragged out to fill the two hours. Some were almost pantomime-like with actor Nishad Moore dramatically running around the stage, no hint of subtlety in his acting. In contrast, Marlene Sidaway was an utter triumph. Playing the frail, stubborn Muriel, she could easily have been that funny old lady that lives at the end of your street.
Although built entirely on clichés and stereotypes it was heart warming to watch the clash then eventual harmonising of two starkly contrasting cultures as they learn from each other to form a neat happily-ever-after.
Whilst this play struggled to capture the touching essence of the beautifully emotional film, it was still an enjoyable watch for those who could relate to the characters on stage. No matter who you are, no matter your age, nothing can stop you hunting down a maharaja, meeting your soulmate or discovering your sense of adventure.