Review: Life of Pi at Norwich Theatre Royal

by Anisa // 0 Comments
Pi in a battle with Richard Parker the tiger in Life of Pi

Calling all fellow ‘Life of Pi’ enthusiasts – and yes, I’m raising my hand here too! If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to experience this literary gem in a whole new way, you’re in for a treat. The play is coming to Norwich Theatre Royal as part of its first-ever UK and Ireland Tour.

In this review, I’ll be your guide, sharing all the incredible moments from this stage adaptation and why you need to see it before it leaves Norwich. Don’t worry there aren’t any spoilers.

*We were invited to the press night to see the show so that we could share our experience with our readers. All photos in this post were provided by Norwich Theatre, the featured image above was taken by Johan Persson.

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Pi from Life of Pi
Pi has an incredible tale to tell after he survived the shipwreck of the Tsimtsum. Credit: Johan Persson

About Life of Pi

Life of Pi” is a novel, written by Yann Martel and published in 2001, that takes you on a wild journey with a young Indian boy named Pi, who survives a shipwreck and ends up stuck on a lifeboat in the vast Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger called Richard Parker. It’s a gripping story of survival, mixing spirituality and storytelling as Pi tackles various challenges. Themes of faith, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit shine through.

In 2012, this incredible tale made its way to the big screen under the direction of Ang Lee. Using cutting-edge 3D technology, the film transports you into Pi’s emotionally charged adventure. “Life of Pi” earned widespread acclaim, especially for its stunning visual effects, and scooped up several Academy Awards, including Best Director.

the cast of Life of Pi
The novel Life of Pi has been turned into a film and now a theatre production. Credit: Johan Persson

More recently, “Life of Pi” found its way to the stage with Lolita Chakrabarti’s adaptation. The show premiered at London’s Wyndham’s Theatre in 2019, receiving both critical and commercial success. It wowed audiences and was nominated for nine Olivier Awards, ultimately winning four, including Best Actor in a Musical for Hiran Abeysekera’s stellar portrayal of Pi Patel.

Now in 2023, as part of its first UK and Ireland Tour, “Life of Pi” visits Norwich Theatre Royal.

Pi being carried in Life of Pi
Making Life of Pi into a theatre production definitely presents many challenges. Credit: Johan Persson

Review of “Life of Pi” at Norwich Theatre Royal

If you’re on the lookout for a mesmerising theatrical ride, “Life of Pi” at Norwich Theatre Royal is the ticket. This production takes Pi’s gripping story and brings it to life in a way that’s simply extraordinary.

I adored the book for its exceptional writing which made a crazy fictional story almost believable. As I geared up to see the show, I couldn’t help but wonder how they’d bring such a tale to life on stage. Well, not only did they pull it off, but they did so in a manner that was utterly captivating, thoroughly entertaining, and infused with a touch of pure magic.

What sets this show apart is the puppetry. It’s mind-blowing how realistic these puppets are; you’ll forget there are skilled puppeteers behind them. While I loved the puppetry in “Animal Farm,” what they’ve done here is on a whole new level.

close up of Richard Parker the tiger in Life of Pi
The puppets were just incredible! Credit: Johan Persson

The combination of these lifelike puppets and some clever lighting tricks creates moments that are eerily authentic. I even had to look away during that intense scene with the hyena and the zebra – and I knew it wasn’t real!

the zebra in Life of Pi
The zebra was so life-like. Credit: Johan Persson

The sets are a highlight too, effortlessly shifting between the hospital room, the lifeboat, and Pi’s life in India. You’ll feel like you are right there on the lifeboat, almost feeling the waves beneath you.

scene from Life of Pi
You could almost feel the rough seas. Credit: Johan Persson

While it’s not a musical, the choreography is brilliant. The cast moves together seamlessly to convey the chaos of a storm at sea and the tension in those gripping animal showdowns.

cast of Life of Pi
The cast and crew were fantastic. Credit: Johan Persson

During the performance I attended, there was a momentary interruption caused by unforeseen circumstances. However, it speaks volumes about the cast’s professionalism that they handled the issue discreetly and swiftly, allowing the show to seamlessly continue without impacting the audience’s overall enjoyment.

Speaking of the cast, they’re all top-notch. Divesh Subaskaran, in his professional debut as Pi, is a standout. The chemistry between the cast and the puppets is undeniable, and that standing ovation at the end was well-deserved.

Pi in the hospital room
In the play, Pi tells his story from his hospital room. Credit: Johan Persson

Worried if the show stays true to the novel? Don’t be. While it adds its own unique flavour, Pi’s character and the magic of the story shine through. You’ll be on the edge of your seat, utterly captivated by the unfolding drama.

Also, no need to stress if you haven’t read the book. The story is easy to follow even if you don’t have any background.

“Life of Pi” isn’t just a play; it’s a fantastic and unforgettable journey that you absolutely shouldn’t miss. So, grab your tickets here and get ready to dive headfirst into Pi’s incredible world.

“Life of Pi” FAQs

When can you see Life of Pi at the Norwich Theatre Royal?

There will be performances 25 – 30 September 2023.

How much are tickets for Life of Pi?

Tickets range from £10 to £49. Check availability here.Pi being carried in Life of Pi

Will you enjoy the Life of Pi play if you haven’t read the Life of Pi book?

Absolutely! You can certainly enjoy the “Life of Pi” play without having read the book. The stage adaptation brings its own unique visual and theatrical elements to the story, making it a captivating experience for both those familiar with the book and those encountering Pi’s journey for the first time. The play stands on its own as a compelling piece of theatre, offering an opportunity to appreciate the story in a different and immersive way.

Is food and drink available at Norwich Theatre Royal?

You can have a pre-show meal in the Prelude Restaurant. Before the show and during the interval, snacks and drinks can be purchased at Cafe Royal or the Circle or Stalls Bar. We recommend ordering your interval drinks at the bar before the show starts.Pi in bed in Life of Pi

Is Life of Pi suitable for kids?

While ‘Life of Pi’ incorporates stunning puppetry, I’d advise against bringing young children to the show. The production can be intense, with moments that may be a bit frightening and graphic, which might not sit well with them. If you need more family-friendly ideas, check out our list of things to do in Norwich with kids.

How long is a performance of Life of Pi?

The show runs approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes including the interval.cast of life of pi

How do you get to Norwich Theatre Royal?

Norwich Theatre Royal is easy to get to as it is located on Theatre Street (next to the Assembly House) in the Norwich city centre. It’s about a 7 minute walk from the Norwich Bus Station or a 20 minute walk from the Norwich Train Station.

Where should you park for Norwich Theatre Royal?

You could use any car park in Norwich city centre, but The Forum and Chantry car parks are the closest ones to Norwich Theatre Royal. Alternatively, you could use the Park and Ride as it’s a short walk from the Norwich Bus Station.

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