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  • Writer's pictureFrances

Life Of Pi Live Review | The Lowry | Manchester

Yann Martel’s award-winning tale of survival has made its journey onto the Lowry stage in breathtaking fashion. Bringing to life the imaginative classic with awe-inspiring visuals and an exceptional cast, Life of Pi showcases the power of theatrical magic.  


Both visually stunning and emotionally resonant, Life of Pi follows Tanvi Virmani’s formidable performance as Piscine Patel, self-named Pi. After her parents decide to sell their zoo in India the family sail with their remaining animals to Canada, only to be struck by a storm that sinks their ark and leaves Pi as the only human survivor. Stranded on a lifeboat with their untameable Bengal tiger, Richard Parker as her only companion, Pi is forced to float for months on the unforgiving Pacific Ocean, bringing into question her faith and blurring the lines between reality and fiction.  

Director Max Webster brings real power to the mystique of Martel’s storytelling as the tale seamlessly transitions from the zoo in India, to Pi’s hospital bed and the lifeboat adrift at sea. Through the use of minimalist staging and projections shimmering scenery onto the entire Lowry stage, the sense of isolation engulfs Pi throughout her journey and creates an immersive experience for the audience to fall into. Reshaping disaster with moving and comedic moments, alongside scenes of unexpected beauty, the narrative unfolds through Pi's reflective monologues and is carried by Virmani’s graceful performance. 

The exceptional puppetry of Richard Parker is masterfully designed by Finn Caldwell and Nick Barnes who bring animals to life with captivating realism using puppeteering. The multiple cast members required to masterfully contort Parker infuse him with a lifelike quality that is both awe-inspiring and unsettling alongside Pi in a tiny lifeboat. It adds a layer of magic to the production and allows you to suspend disbelief and fully embrace the fantastical elements of Pi's tale.  

As Pi and Parker drift across the vast expanse of the ocean, Pi's faith in God and her determination to live are tested in unimaginable ways. This is a challenging tale to recreate on stage, yet Webster balances the essence of Martel's poetic work while introducing enchanting digital technology and puppetry. Faithfully recapturing the source material and uniquely adapting it to deliver a warm and unforgettable production, Pi leaves you to ponder the themes of faith, survival and the resilience of the human spirit. 

Offering an adrenaline-pumping and ambitious piece of theatre, Life of Pi is a poignant reminder of the role storytelling plays in our lives. Whether you're a fan of the 2002 Booker Prize-winning novel or discovering Pi's journey for the first time, this is a phenomenal production that sweeps you into an enigmatic fantasy wrapped in life's unanswerable questions.  

Tickets are available via the Lowry link


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