Pi’s life at Wyndham’s Theater


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life of Pi at Wyndham’s Theater | Theater critic

December 3, 2021


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The Man Booker Prize-winning novel by Yann Martel has captivated audiences since its publication in 2001. The tale of a disastrous sea voyage contains universal themes of suffering and loss, as well as resilience, strength and resilience. spirituality in the face of great adversity, pushing its protagonist to its limits.

Pool “Pi” Molitor Patel (Hiran Abeysekera) is a 16 year old who travels to Canada from Pondicherry, India, amid growing political unrest, with his parents (played by Mina Anwar and Nicholas Khan) and his sister Elder Rani (Payal Mistry.) Traveling on the Tsimtsum ship with their horde of animals, including an orangutan, a zebra, a hyena, and a Bengal tiger (called Richard Parker), the ship sank in a devastating storm, leaving the young Pi alone in the Pacific Ocean, struggles for his survival.

Playwright Lolita Chakrabarti’s script works well, although it’s the striking puppets of movement director Finn Caldwell and designer Nick Barnes that are the most memorable. The coordination of the creatures is superb, with sometimes three people maneuvering the animals. With the challenge of moving the play to Wyndham’s in Sheffield, set designer Tim Hatley and production manager Simon Sturgess rebuilt the seats in this 1899 theater so the audience could see all the action. Much of the story takes place on a boat, which appears and disappears under the ground. Likewise, when Pi leaps into the sea, a floor flap swallows it, eliciting plenty of laughs as its head reappears from the other side of the stage – an ingeniously creative touch from director Max Webster.

As Pi recounts his survival in a hospital in Mexico, the sterile space contrasts with scenes like the bustle of an Indian bazaar and those of a castaway at sea. Stunning video projections by Andrej Goulding bring the scene to life. history, detailing the ocean and its diversity; add the moving score of Andrew T Mackay, and one is perfectly transported. In another magical scene that evokes the film, luminous fish are led by puppeteers against a starry night; all that’s missing is the whale.

While the tale is a great loss and distress, there are moments of relief through humorous lines that make audiences laugh more than once. Abeysekera is flexible and her comedic timing excellent, while maintaining the danger of her volatile situation, while the vocalization of Richard Parker by Habib Nasib Hader is perfectly nuanced with a French accent.

This theatrical adaptation reminds viewers that Martel’s novel is a classic of contemporary fiction, an inspiring philosophical story, and a testament to the strength of the human spirit.

Selina Begum
Photo: Johan Persson

Pi’s life is at Wyndham’s Theater from the 14e until November 27e February 2022. For more information or to book visit the theater website here.

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