Life of Pi dominated awards season earlier in the year, and it’s abundantly clear why from the moment you take your seat.

Credit: Ellie Kurttz

Based on the novel by Yann Martel, and adapted for the stage by Lolita Chakrabarti, Life of Pi follows the optimistic young Pi. His world full of the weird and wonderful as he lives at a zoo in  Pondicherry, India. Pi is an inquisitive young man, that loves the animals that surround him. He was raised in a Hindu family, but attends the mosque and the church, to discover more about different religions. Due to unrest in India, the family immigrate to Canada, with their animals in tow, they board the cargo ship headed to the West. Disaster strikes in the form of a shipwreck, which sees Pi stranded on a lifeboat with Richard Parker, a Bengal tiger.

On the evening I went along to the see the show Pi was played by Chirag Benedict Lobo, the Alternate Pi, who played the character with such charisma and childlike wonder, it was a beautiful performance to behold. I was, however, disappointed that Pi’s family and the other Indian characters within the show spoke with British accents, rather than Indian accents. This made the performances feel slightly less genuine, and I couldn’t understand why this creative decision was made.

The undisputed stars of this show are Andrzej Goulding’s video projections, Tim Lutkin’s lighting, Carolyn Downing’s sound, Tim Hatley’s magical set, which work in harmony to create a mesmerisingly beautiful show. Nick Barnes and Finn Caldwell’s masterful puppetry elevates the creativity of this show, turning it into the spectacle that it is. Life of Pi feels incredibly technologically advanced and will leave you awestruck throughout, as the stage transforms in front of your eyes.

Credit: Ellie Kurttz

The puppetry is simply spectacular, the movement of each animal is so well thought out and lifelike, it really is as though you are watching animals come to life before you. And a menagerie takes the stage, including an orangutan, tiger, zebra and a hyena. Seven actors play Richard Parker, the Bengal Tiger (Daisy Franks, Owain Gwynn, Romina Hytten, Elan James, Rebecca Killick, Tom Larkin and Tom Stacy). Three people take control of the tiger each evening, and perform with such power, beautifully portraying exactly why this animal is the King of the Jungle.

With so much going on in this show, it could be challenging for the role of Pi to be as impactful as the puppetry and special effects unfolding upon the stage. However, Lobo’s performance stood out all on its own, he plays the character of Pi with an endearing tenderness that makes the final scenes even more heart-breaking.

Life of Pi truly is a masterpiece from the minute the curtain comes up, until the final bow. I have never seen theatre like this. This play is an ingenious spectacle and one of the best show’s you will ever see. The best thing you can do this year, is to book a ticket to experience the wildly wonderful Life of Pi.  Prepare to be blown away by this beautiful story that is masterfully staged.  

Rating: 5 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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