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Ian Waller enjoys a beautiful adaptation of the classic book and film

What an unforgettable night of beautiful, brave, beguiling theatre! Life Of Pi offers one of those productions that will expand your theatrical experience, combining wonderful storytelling with creative production and a strong core performance. You’ll be so glad that you bought a ticket!

The plot follows the story of Piscine Molitor Patel (Divesh Subaskaran & Keshini Misha) – or Pi, as he prefers to be known – as he is stranded on a life raft with a tiger called Richard Parker. If that’s not enough, there’s the storms to deal with alongside dwindling food and water supplies, as well as the obvious danger of ending up as the tiger’s lunch.

Right from the curtain up, Life Of Pi is a production that dominates the audience, from the colours and lights of the Indian marketplace and zoo that Pi had called home, to the incredible effects that bring storms and waves crashing from out of the stage.

For the first half of last night’s production, Pi was played by Divesh Subaskaran, making a remarkably assured and confident professional debut. Immediately he works the stage and audience thanks to the his graceful movements around the sets and an innocent character with an naively inquisitive nature, as well as that bravado of youth that will make him thinking that sneaking into a tiger’s cage is a good idea.

Around him his family worry about the country’s worsening crisis (Life Of Pi is set during the a time when a state of emergency was called in India during the mid 1970s), with plans to move themselves and their family zoo to Canada. And it’s this zoo that adds the magic to the story. The animals on display – from a playful goat to a hyena, zebra and the newly arrived tiger – are brought to life by teams of actors and puppeteers, so skilful in their arts that the tiger becomes impressively menacing with its every appearance.

With the family and the animals aboard an container ship bound for a new start, disaster strikes when a storm leaves Pi adrift on the ocean with just the tiger for company, along with the hyena, zebra and orangutan. Within no time, the tiger is exerting its dominance and it’s up to Pi to find a way to survive both the hungry eyes of the tiger and a dwindling food and water supply in the middle of a vast ocean.

The result is simply superlative storytelling. Even with the central actor, Divesh, being unable to carry on for the second half of the play, and with understudy Keshini Misha taking her chance in the spotlight with admirable poise and skill, the action never flinches or fails. Will the young romantic be able to fight off the hungry advances of the vicious tiger and, indeed, is everything on the lifeboat quite what it seems at first sight.

All-in-all, Life of Pi delivers a remarkable and impressive piece of theatre. While some of the scenes might be troubling for more sensitive youngsters, the full crowd – including several coach loads from local schools – clearly loved their evening out at Bristol grandest theatre.

Life Of Pi is on at the Bristol Hippodrome until 20 January 2024. For more details and to book tickets, go to