Life of Pi is an incredible play, full of masterful puppetry, where a remarkable journey is brought to life. The captivating, dramatic tale had the audience gripped from start to finish.
Knowing Yann Martel's novel won the Man Booker prize, and that the stage version is a five-times Olivier award winner, I went in expecting the show to be great. What I wasn't expecting was for it to become the best play I have ever watched!
Life of Pi has the miraculous ability to transport you around the world. I was wowed by the impressive giraffe puppet towering overhead accompanied by rhythmic jungle beats, before we were transported to an incredible Indian street market, full of vibrant colour. A scene so real you could almost smell the spices and feel the warmth of the sun.
Although it was Divesh Subaskaran’s professional debut performance in the lead role of Pi, you’d be forgiven for thinking he was a seasoned pro as you became instantly engrossed in his performance, and taken on the journey with him, lost at sea for 227 days.
I was blown away by the poignant and incredibly moving scenes. The stand out moments were the beautifully executed transitions through time and the heart warming interactions Pi had with his family. We experienced turmoil, but this was often interspersed with a gentle humour that made you smile.
The mesmerising life-sized puppet animals are a big attraction. Richard Parker, the sensational 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger’s presence dominated the stage, and I developed a soft spot for the goat who had his own cheeky personality.
Although the puppeteers made the movements look effortless and natural, I did pause for a moment to consider how demanding this piece of physical theatre was – they even brought their own physiotherapist on tour!
Life of Pi is a must-see play and is showing at New Victoria Theatre in Woking from now until Saturday, October 7. Tickets are priced from £13 and performances start at 7.30pm, with additional 2.30pm matinee performances on Wednesday and Saturday.
The running time is approximately two hours, including a short interval. Life of Pi is on its first ever UK tour and will be playing at Chichester Festival Theatre from Thursday, November 16 to Saturday, December 2.
Review by Kate Gee