Life Of PI: An Awe-Inspiring Spectacle

The spectacular Life of Pi continued its UK tour last night with its press night at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, and once again proved why this is a play that must be seen to be believed, such is the brilliance of its puppetry, its staging and the central performance by Divesh Subaskaran. The much loved novel by Yann Martel is brought to life in a riot of colour and beauty, but it is the very human story of loss and endurance at its centre that lingers long after you leave the theatre.

We first meet Pi in a Mexican hospital in 1978, where he reveals his story to accident investigator Mrs Okamoto (Lilian Tsang). Pi, full name Piscine (as in the French for swimming pool) lives an idyllic life in 1970’s India, at the centre of his loving family and the zoo they own and run. Politics turns their world upside down and lead to Pi’s father making the decision to move the whole family, and zoo, to Canada to start a new life, paying for passage aboard a cargo ship with a French crew. When the ship is wrecked during a freak storm, Pi, is the only human survivor but he has to share his lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger, Richard Parker, having to learn to live side by side. The investigators do not believe his incredible story, but the truth could be even more horrifying to comprehend.

Life of Pi is anchored on an incredible central performance from Divesh Subaskaran, who makes the lead likeable, brave and inspirational, particularly in his view towards religion. He genuinely makes you believe in his struggles and eventual friendship with the tiger, and this is aided by the incredibly lifelike puppet that is simply awe inspiring, and wonderfully animated by the talented puppeteers team. The scene where the almost blind Pi and the tiger, Richard Parker, converse about their favourite meal, is simply wonderful and funny in the midst of such bleak circumstances.

The incredible artistry of the sets allow you to be swept along with the belief that for most of the story you are at sea, with crashing waves, sea turtles and fish, as well as a pretty realistic cargo ship. But Life of Pi can also be brutal, most of the animals you are drawn too are victims of violence in the plot, and this is not brushed over, but is bleak and honest, which gives the play its emotional punch.

The final revelations are heartbreaking, and yet Life of Pi is never without hope, and that is its true power.

Life of Pi, Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until 27th April

Click here for ticket information


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