Theatre

Life Of Pi At Wyndham Theatre, London Review

TICKETS TO SEE THE SHOW WERE GIFTED TO THE REVIEWER AND GUEST FOR THE PURPOSES OF WRITING THE REVIEW.

Reviewed by Beth Cowan

The Wyndham Theatre is located in the theatre hub of London… The West End! It is a short 6 minute walk from Charing Cross train station and a 1 minute walk from Leicester Square Tube station. The theatre itself was small and pretty, kept clean but also much more humble than some of the grander theatres on the west end. We had a brilliant view on the stage in the royal circle, row C… this gave us a nice lifted view- which I feel is imperative for this show because of the many projections on the floor of the stage that would be missed by anyone sat in the stalls!

The show was a marvellous, visually stimulating, cornucopia of colour, music and design! The technical side of the show was the true focus, with spectacular puppetry to bring the zoo animals alive! The acting was not to the same standard as the design but that is not to say it was poor, just that the visual spectacle outshone it! The protagonist, Pi, was played by Hiran Abeysekera, and he was absolutely phenomenal! Not only was he able to keep us engaged with his words as all the fantastical stuff around him happened, but he was so physically impressive, able to balance on the smallest ledges and be thrown in the air like he defied gravity!

The other cast members that stood out to me were the Puppet Handlers, particularly Romina Hytten and Fred Davis, with outstanding core strength and dexterity, they breathed life into this creatures with total accuracy. The cast all come from a mixture of different drama schools, two from MY drama school, Rose Bruford College, which was exciting to see! Playwright, Lolita Chakrabarti’s adaptation of Yann Martels novel brought many theatrical elements to the story that I was doubtful would look good on stage, especially after seeing the cinematic designs in the movie version, but the animals, even though puppets, retained their dangerous and volatile nature, something the author wanted to keep in the stage adaption.

Andrew T. Mackay, the composer, did a wonderful job blending the underscore of the mood with traditional elements of Indian music, where this play is first set. I really enjoyed the play as a whole, and took a family member with autism that thrives on visual stimulation- this certainly ticked those boxes! However there are some gruesome moments where the show tackles what one has to do at sea to survive, I’m not sure if it would be suitable to children who are sensitive to animal deaths. Regardless of the dark moments, they were amazingly juxtaposed with thrilling images of seascapes and jungles, with the bright magical colours of Pi’s story- this contrasted well with the cold and hard atmosphere of the hospital bed where he tells his tale from.

As far as the theatre itself goes, as I said earlier it is small and humble. I don’t think there was enough disability access, I had to use steps to get into most of the toilets, and stairs to all of the top level seats. The bar was well priced… I got a drink, snack and programme for £10. All the staff were friendly and welcoming. Everyone on the team was masked up and encouraged the audience to do the same… this made me and my party feel very well looked after! The interval was about 20 minutes long, giving us enough time to get some refreshments, although the bar got packed very quickly!!

Overall it was a wonderful experience and I would definitely watch again, although I don’t think it would compare to the first time I saw those brilliant puppets come to life!

Rating: 4/5

Tickets cost from £27.50

LIFE OF PI is at the Wyndham Theatre, London til 29th May or 24th July for group bookings, for more information or to book tickets visit https://www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk/whats-on/life-of-pi or call the box office on 03444825151.

Wyndham Theatre, Charing Cross road, London, WC2H 0DA

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