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  • Writer's pictureTracy Tristram

Review: Life of Pi - a slice of London theatre genius

Updated: Dec 29, 2022

Life of Pi review

When we were recently asked to come along and see Lolita Chakrabarti's stage version of Yann Martel's Booker-Prize winning novel, Life of Pi, we weren't sure what to expect. Could the magic of the screen version and the imagery created by the novel transfer to a live, theatrical performance? Read our review to find out...

Life of Pi: What's it all about?

Life of Pi review

Political turmoil sees Piscine Patel (or Pi as he prefers to be known) and his family leaving their beloved home - a zoo in India - behind for a new life overseas, and a lot of the first half of the show is filled with glimpses of his - mostly - idyllic childhood. We're introduced early doors to the phenomenal puppets that are the lynchpin of this show, including Richard Parker the Bengal Tiger who becomes Pi's companion aboard a small boat for 227 days following a disaster at sea.

The second half of the show centers on Pi's inner and outer turmoil at being cast adrift on the endless ocean with only his thoughts and a Royal Bengal Tiger for company. Dazzling, daunting and utterly captivating.

What we loved about Life of Pi

The indisputable stars of this production are the menagerie of animal puppets designed by creative wizards Finn Caldwell and Nick Barnes. From a zebra to orangutang, meerkats to turtles, these mesmerising characters are a fundamental part of why this show is so darn wonderful. Add in a dash of clever set changes, a large dose of top notch acting (Hiran Abeysekera as Pi is especially exceptional) and the tale's underlying message of hope and endurance, and you've got yourselves a large slice of theatrical brilliance for families. Yes, it's a rather weighty, philosophical storyline, but there are certainly lots of lovely, heart warming, humorous moments to lighten the mood just when things start to feel a bit sombre.

There are definitely a few scenes that would make us reluctant to bring children under the age of around 8-years-ish (including the rather savage killing of Pi's pet goat by Richard Parker the tiger), and the dry humour is also probably suited more to older children and their grownups, but although we left our own tweens and teens at home this time, we'll definitely bring them in the future. They will love it for sure (and we all know how hard it is to please a tween and teen audience!) so book your tix now for a show that's sure to float the whole family's boat.

All the deets

Where: Wyndham's Theatre, Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0DA.

When: Running from now until July 2022

Cost: From £30 per person per show when booking through Official London Theatre.

Other: Under 3's not permitted. Running time 2 hours 5 minutes (inc. interval).

* London for Kidz were gifted tickets for Life of Pi for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are our own.

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