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Life of Pi
Life of Pi
Plays

Life of Pi

London
The 5 time Olivier Award-winning show powered by puppetry and pure stage magic.
89

About Life of Pi

Embark on the most epic journey in theatre with this Olivier Award-winning adaptation of Life of Pi, Yann Martel’s philosophical novel.

Just how do you put Martel’s tale on stage, giving us a teenager stranded in a boat with a prowling Bengal tiger? Through the magic of innovative stagecraft – this kind of production has audiences of all ages watching open-mouthed.

The astonishing Life of Pi play was born at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre in 2019, directed by Max Webster. Crucially, it uses puppetry for the story’s menagerie: Richard Parker, the Bengal tiger who first threatens and then befriends Pi, along with a hyena, zebra, orangutan and giraffe, among others.

London Theatre said "this production certainly has a spiritual or otherworldly sensation, and it absolutely demonstrates the transporting joy of magnificent theatrical storytelling".

Life of Pi picked up five gongs at the 2022 Olivier Awards: Best New Play, Best New Actor for Hiran Abeysekera, Best Lighting Design, Best Set Design, and – in a first for the Oliviers – Best Actor in a Supporting Role went to the seven actors who play the tiger.

The story revolves around Pi, who loses his family during a shipwreck; they had been crossing from India to Canada, along with their zoo. Pi escapes in a lifeboat, with no one but animals for company, and begins his extraordinary quest for survival.

Want to get great prices on day seats to Life of Pi? Unlock Rush tickets, and book same-day tickets in London for just £25, exclusively on TodayTix.

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Please note
Everyone must have their own ticket to enter. Children under 16 must be accompanied and sat next to a ticketholder who is at least 18. Children under the age of 3 won't be admitted. Latecomers won't be admitted until a suitable break in the performance.

Tell Me More

Yann Martel won the Man Booker Prize for his celebrated novel, which works both as a thrilling adventure tale and as a fascinating exploration of different philosophies, faiths and ideas.

Both elements remain in the stage play: in fact, the very art of storytelling, and how we use it to make sense of our lives, is on display, since the show features Pi recalling past events to two people while he’s in hospital.

The clever stage adaptation is by Lolita Chakrabarti, known as both an actress and a writer. Her previous plays include Red Velvet, about the 19th-century African-American actor Ira Aldridge, which starred her husband Adrian Lester.

Bringing the Life of Pi world to life also required an innovative creative team, including director Max Webster, set and costume designer Tim Hatley, video designer Andzrej Goulding, lighting designer Tim Lutkin, sound designer Carolyn Downing, and puppetry specialists Nick Barnes and Finn Caldwell. The latter pair previously worked on Angels in America, and Caldwell on the original War Horse.

What to Watch For:

  • Martel’s novel was previously adapted into a film by Ang Lee, in 2012. Starring Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan and Rafe Spall, it featured ground-breaking visual effects work and was critically acclaimed. The movie was nominated for 11 Oscars and won four, including a Best Director award for Lee.
  • The look of the animal puppets was inspired by driftwood, tying them visually into the concept of the shipwreck, and are designed so that you see their skeletons working. They’re made out of Plastazote, plywood, aluminium and nylon, with bungee cords allowing their joints to stretch.
  • There are multiple puppeteers in the company, working in teams and rotating shows, since it’s such a taxing effort to work the puppets and requires incredible levels of skill and coordination. Even though each move is carefully rehearsed ahead of time, there are always slight variations on each night, keeping it fresh.
  • Which belief system would you rely on in a crisis? As Pi is stranded, he imagines various people in his life offering him advice to help him cope – including religious faith, pragmatic logic, mathematical analysis and morality. It’s one of the interesting ways that Martel’s theories come through in the play.
Run time

2hrs 5min, including one interval

Start date

November 15th, 2021

End date

January 15th, 2023

Genre

Plays

Venue

Wyndham's Theatre

Age

Parental guidance

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