Based on Yann Martel’s best-selling parable of hope, Life of Pi is a tale that touches on philosophy, religion and the unsurmountable will to live. After a resounding triumph in Broadway and the West End, the five-star theatrical adaptation has come rolling into The Lowry through an incredible traverse of the imagination.
When Pi’s family are forced to leave India and upheave their zoo to Canada, a great storm hits their ship, leaving only five survivors stranded on a single lifeboat – a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, a sixteen-year-old named Pi, and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger, named Richard Parker.
Curtains raised, set unfolded, the audience was introduced to its very own Pi, who on our night, was played by the magnificent Tanvi Virmani. In this story, it is Miss (not Mr) Patel who will conquer the stage through a compelling performance of determination, warmth and humour.
The breathtaking show, directed by Max Webster, is centred around a mesmeric harmony between actor and puppetry, human and animal; with a narrative that dances between thoughtful moments of tranquillity and unexpected outbursts of energy.
If Life of Pi is all about the importance of storytelling, then Virmani and the entire production succeed in weaving non-linear versions of truth. This is elevated through a transformative set and lighting design (Tim Hatley, Nick Barnes, Finn Caldwell, Tim Lutkin, Andrzej Goulding).
Captivating scenes interchange between land, sky and sea; an exotic zoo, a bustling Indian market, a sinking ship, a crowded lifeboat that floats beneath the constellations, and a hospital ward, where the account unfolds.
Bringing a cacophony of creatures to life, puppet designers, Nick Barnes and Finn Caldwell (also puppet movement director), master a convincing range of animalistic action. There is an unsettling contrast between the soft, watery swimming motions at sea and the beastly carnage of a feeding frenzy onboard.
Likewise, the human choreography is entirely believable. As Virmani darts from one side of the lifeboat to the other, she is manic – yet controlled. As she is lifted through the narrative of space and time, the entire production is both elegant and dazzling.
Be under no illusion – in a wondrous exploration of humanity and the sanctity of life, Life of Pi pushes the boundaries of hearts and minds, raising the brutal question of how far one would go to survive. And how we might justify our actions to ourselves.
An awe-inspiring spectacle not to be missed, Life of Pi will be showing at The Lowry until Sun 7 Jan 2024, before continuing its tour all over the UK. Book your tickets using the button below.
Tue 5 Dec - Sun 7 Jan, The Lowry, The Quays, Salford M50 3AZ
- Rebekah Spratt
- Published on:
- Thu 14 Dec 2023