Life of Pi at Wyndhams Theatre
Life of Pi is The Olivier Award winning play which is based on the book (and later film) of the same name. Pi and his family decide to move from India to Canada along with their family zoo. However a storm strikes and Pi finds himself alone in a boat with a Bengal tiger, Richard Parker. Pi has to work out how to survive at sea for months and as he does so he finds an unlikely bond with Richard Parker.
The most striking thing about Life of Pi is how visually stunning it is. I went along with high expectations for the puppetry but what I hadn’t expected was the beautiful set design by Tim Hatley and projections by Andrezj Goulding alongside the puppets. The boat that Pi finds himself in rises from the floor, rotates and elevates and the projections onto it leave the audience believing that Pi really is at sea.
The puppets were also exceptional and I was quickly immersed in forgetting about the fact that they were puppets but believing that they were living and breathing animals on the stage in front of me. The animals they depicted ranged from a goat to fish and from a hyena to the Bengal Tiger. The amount of details that was considered with these puppets was incredible, simple movements such as the flick of the tigers tail after he had finished a meal was exceptional. If it sounds like this part of the review is packed full of superlatives then rightly so….this element of the show was perfection.
The cast were also very well cast. I saw the cover Pi, Chirag Benedict Lobo who was excellent. His interaction with puppets helped elevate the puppetry even further. He quickly had the audience on side, rooting for him to successfully negotiate his way to dry land. The other actors that play humans were all solid in their parts however they had little character development or depth simply due to the narrative of the show. There were elements of the show that I had niggles with. I was unsure with the family as to why the accents between them varied so much but this was such a minor element that it really shouldn’t detract from the show. The actors that were puppeteers, I can only pay them the highest compliment for puppeteers…..they were so immersed in their role that I almost forgot that they were there.
As someone who has read the book I much preferred the stage version. I found in the book that some of the passage of time at sea really dragged as a reader but as an audience member the visual effects kept me engaged during this period. Whilst the story itself is a pleasant one, especially as it unwinds towards its climax the star of the show is the puppetry and visual effects.
Life of Pi is worth seeing for the visual appeal alone. It is a masterclass in puppetry and transporting the audience to a world far away from London.
If you want to know more about Life of Pi and get tickets then check out their website.