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REVIEW: Life of Pi is a spectacular fight for survival


By Kyle Ritchie

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Life of Pi – a young man's epic fight for survival – has spectacularly sailed into Aberdeen's His Majesty's Theatre this week.

It is the multi Olivier Award-winning West End production's first Scottish date on its first ever UK tour.

Based on the acclaimed fictional novel by Yann Martel, it tells the story of 16-year-old Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel who grows up as the son of the manager of a zoo in Pondicherry, India.

Life of Pi is being performed at His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen.
Life of Pi is being performed at His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen.

After unrest in the country, Pi's father decides to sell the zoo and emigrate with his wife and sons to Canada.

Tragedy strikes when the cargo ship the family and some of the animals are travelling on sinks in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean.

It leaves five survivors stranded on a single lifeboat – a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, Pi and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger called Richard Parker.

A long and harsh battle for survival ensues as Pi and the animals try to make it back to dry land and civilisation.

Life of Pi is being performed at His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen.
Life of Pi is being performed at His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen.

The theatre show of Life of Pi won five Olivier Awards in 2022 and three Tony awards in 2023, while the novel was the winner of the Man Booker Prize and sold more than 15 million copies worldwide.

Divesh Subaskaran stars as Pi in the touring production and he manages to brilliantly portray the young man who finds himself in extremely challenging circumstances. It is a lead performance that keeps the audience gripped in the story with the right amount of intensity when needed.

Also taking centre stage are the incredible puppets which bring the various animals to life, with particular focus on the mighty Richard Parker.

An excellent supporting cast play the various characters that Pi meets on his journey and they also take control of the puppets.

Life of Pi is being performed at His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen.
Life of Pi is being performed at His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen.

This calls for great teamwork and practice to ensure the animals move as they would in real life.

There is an impressive synergy between Subaskaran and the tiger puppeteers as the arduous situation progresses.

The production has astounding staging, scenery, video projection, lighting, sound effects and music, which all comes together to immerse the audience in Pi's struggle for survival.

Life of Pi is being performed at His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen.
Life of Pi is being performed at His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen.

The emotional and powerful story really makes an impact as Pi recalls it from his hospital bed.With the action moving from present day to the harsh conditions of the Pacific Ocean it never loses its momentum.

There is a strong focus on ambiguity and the audience is left to ponder the interpretation of events.

However, they are left in no doubt that they have seen a superb spectacle and a truly unique stage show.

Life of Pi is at His Majesty's Theatre until Saturday. Visit the Aberdeen Performing Arts website for tickets.


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