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Review: The Life of Pi is ‘visionary, outstanding, and will leave you in awe’

The stage adaption of Man Booker Prize winner Life of Pi has landed at The Lowry and, no messing about, is is absolutely wonderful.

Life of Pi at The Lowry Theatre is a spectacular testament to the power of imagination and the art of puppetry.

Adapted from Yann Martel’s acclaimed novel and directed by a team of visionaries, this production takes audiences on a breathtaking journey through the highs and lows of survival, underscored by extraordinary choreography and puppetry.

You can get tickets to this incredible production by clicking here

Life of Pi at The Lowry

From the very onset, it’s evident that Life of Pi will be a visual feast that immerses the audience in a world of wonder and mystery.

The stunning set, designed by Tim Hartley, seamlessly transforms from a bustling zoo to a sinking ship, a lifeboat adrift in the vast ocean, and finally, a hospital ward where the protagonist’s harrowing tale unfolds.

Interchanging scenery is a masterstroke, enhancing the narrative’s dynamism and keeping the audience captivated throughout.

Incredible Puppetry

The heart of this production lies in its awe-inspiring puppetry, skillfully executed by the talented team.

As the first puppet, a goat, graces the stage, one can immediately sense the impending masterpiece unfolding.

Each subsequent introduction of zoo residents—a giraffe, zebra, hyena, orangutan, and the formidable Bengal tiger, Richard Parker—takes the art of puppetry to new heights.

One of the requests from Yann Martel about the stage adaption to Lolita Chakrabarti was that the animals were genuinely scary, and with Richard Parker, wow, the way he moves and snarls is genuinely terrifying. 

The puppeteers and their creations seamlessly blend, captivating the audience and breathing life into the diverse characters.

A Story of Faith and Survival

Life of Pi, at its core, is a tale of survival, faith, and the complexities of human nature.

The stage adaptation skillfully delves into themes of religion, the sanctity of animals, and the unyielding will to survive.

While the degree to which the adaptation adds or detracts from the original novel and film may be debated, the production undeniably enhances the narrative through its visual prowess and the emotive power of live performance.

A Feast for the Eyes

The production’s visual appeal extends beyond puppetry, encompassing brilliant special effects that transport the audience into the watery expanse of Pi’s tumultuous journey.

The chaos of animals on the sinking ship is a testament to the creative genius at play, creating an immersive experience that lingers in the minds of the spectators.

The realism, though occasionally grim, serves as a stark reminder of the harsh realities of survival, adding depth to the narrative.

Life of Pi’s Choreography

The choreography in Life of Pi is a showstopper in itself.

The physicality and energy brought to the stage by Tanvi Virmani in the lead role of Pi are nothing short of stupendous.

As Pi leaps from one side of the boat to the other, embodying trauma, hope, and mania, the choreography becomes a visceral expression of the character’s journey.

The chemistry between Virmani and Keshini Misha, portraying Pi’s brother Rani, adds a touch of sweetness amidst the turmoil, providing a ray of hope in the face of impending tragedy.

The incredible Production Team

Under the skilled direction of Max Webster, this remarkable show boasts a stellar creative team.

Set and Costume Designer Tim Hatley, Puppet Designers Nick Barnes and Finn Caldwell, Puppet and Movement Director Finn Caldwell, Video Designer Andrzej Goulding, Lighting Designer Tim Lutkin, Sound Designer Carolyn Downing, Composer Andrew T Mackay, and Dramaturgy by Jack Bradley all contribute to this exceptional production.

A Timely Reflection on the Plight of Refugees

In the context of the contemporary world, Life of Pi in 2023 takes on a new significance.

The plight of Pi’s family fleeing India mirrors the harsh reality faced by refugees globally, making the narrative a poignant reflection on the enduring struggles of humanity.

The production prompts reflection on the treatment of those displaced and the challenges they encounter in hostile territories.

Behind the Scenes Brilliance

Special acknowledgement must be given to the creative minds behind the visual magic.

Set and costume designer Tim Hartley, Puppetry and Movement Director Finn Caldwell, and the lighting and visual effects team led by Andrzej Goulding and Tim Lutkin collectively contribute to the production’s awe-inspiring aesthetic.

Their collaborative efforts result in a seamless fusion of storytelling, puppetry, and visual spectacle.

A Stellar Cast

Finally, the ensemble cast deserves accolades for their stellar performances. Tanvi Virmani’s professional debut as Pi is nothing short of exceptional, capturing the stamina, power, warmth, and wit of the character.

The supporting cast, including Antony Antunes, Adwitha Arumugam, and others, enrich the narrative with their nuanced performances make this play a big winner.

This production showcases the incredible power of imagination, not only adapts Yann Martel’s acclaimed novel with finesse but also enriches the narrative through its extraordinary visual elements.

As the final curtain descends, the echoes of Tanvi Virmani’s powerful portrayal, the mesmerising puppetry, and the poignant reflection on the human condition lingers, making Life of Pi not merely a play but an unforgettable experience that resonates long after the lights dim.

Go and see it. 

Life of Pi at the Lowry Tickets

Life of Pi is on at the Lowry until Sunday, January 7.

You can get tickets by clicking here

Duration: : 2hours 9mins 

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