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Stuart King

Review: LIFE OF PI at Wyndham's Theatre

For those who were captivated and engrossed by Yann Martel’s 2001 award winning novel, the stage adaptation will tick most of the plot boxes and mesmerise through sheer technical invention, but the production itself fails to genuinely engage on an emotional level.

The Life of Pi - Wyndham's Theatre Hiran Abeysekera (Pi) in Life of Pi at Wyndham's Theatre

Due to political instability, a Tamil Indian family uproot their zoo in Pondicherry and are in the process of relocating to Canada when their transportation ship sinks in a storm. Pi Patel along with various animals are the only survivors of the tragedy and learn to co-exist (or die) during 227 days at sea aboard a small lifeboat.

As with the book, the metaphysical and spiritual elements of the story are explored throughout the play, but it is the astounding choreography of performers, puppeteers, sharply timed set manoeuvres and projections which will dazzle audience members above all else. In a cast of otherwise two-dimensional performances, special mention must go to Hiran Abeysekera in the title role of Pi who throws himself energetically around the stage amidst the constant carnage and chaos, only ever coming to rest during the hospital scenes where he recounts his tale to a confounded shipping investigator.

The technical wizardry alone is worth the ticket price, but don’t expect to have your heartstrings tugged. For that, you’d be better-off watching Ang Lee’s 2012 film adaptation.

Life of Pi Tickets