Friday, 19 July 2019

Life Of Pi


I've had to think about this " review" for a while as real life, friends, too much coffee and night shifts have got into the way, but the overwhelming message I need to share about Lolita Chakrabarti's production of LIFE OF PI at the Crucible Theatre is that it is a stunning piece of theatre.
Everyone remembers the film with it's vast Pacific sky set pieces and CGI animals and so it was refreshing to start the play in a bustling, vibrant and colourful Indian zoo and city where a benign giraffe holds centre stage amid the chattering sweet relationships of the Hindi family owners. Through puppetry first seen via the productions like Warhorse and The Lion King, we are introduced to the main animal characters that would play so big a role in the story once the ship transporting the zoo to a new life in Canada sinks and PI (Hiram Abeysekera) is left adrift with an injured zebra, an Orangutan, hyena, and of course a Bengal Tiger.
The staging literally takes your breath away, with PI's hospital bed magically transforming into his lifeboat through an undulating ocean as translucent shimmering flying fish leap out of the water above his head and as boy and Tiger battle for supremacy the audience literally forgets that three men are operating the tiger puppet and the giant cat turns and spins in the confines of the lifeboat. 
There is an energy about Life Of PI , on and off the stage. Through word of mouth , The Sheffield audience had heard just how good it is, and by the end of the first half, they were cheering as the Tiger leapt gracefully over PI's head in order to kill the hyena.
It a wonderfully visual piece of theatre and surprisingly for someone who actually hated Warhorse , despite its wonderfully cleaver horse animations, I adored it's Indian themes and energy
Having said this, the small cast of mainly Indian and Asian actors more than balanced the special effects with some lovely performances and Abersekera absolutely stole the show as PI ...bringing a warmth, charm and playfulness his role as a boy intrigued by religion and battered by grief.



At the curtain call the audience stood cheering as one as they apparently have done every night since the production started a couple of weeks ago, and I left smiling at strangers , hoping that the production finds itself to a London audience where it can be appreciated outside South Yorkshire.

22 comments:

  1. Would have expected a play produced in Yorkshire to be called 'Life of Pie' ;)

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    1. Ha-ha! Nice one Elaine. Good job we Yorkshire folk can laugh at ourselves.

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    2. Life of Pud.

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  2. Barbara Anne2:56 pm

    How wonderful!

    Hugs!

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  3. I loved the film and remembered thinking that it wasn't what I expected (don't know what I expected really). It is good to know that it works on stage especially as one of the main charters is a Bengal tiger. I am so glad that you enjoyed it.

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  4. This is one of those books that I pick up extra copies of to gift to other people because it's so good. The first time I read it I didn't guess the ending and was saddened. It must have been wonderful to see this production.

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  5. The Guardian reviewer was cheering about it the other day. I thought it must be good. You have confirmed.

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    1. Hi Rachel, did you remove your blog?

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  6. That sounds amazing. There's something so uplifting about leaving the theatre, or even the cinema, after a really good performance and catching the eyes of total strangers while you are caught up in the moment together isn't there.

    So glad you enjoyed it so much.

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  7. Sounds like a true must-see. I'd feel much more comfortable watching this with a life-sized 'puppet' tiger than the film which I also saw - and quite liked, actually - though the more real the animal(s) looks on screen the more distracting it gets, overbalancing other aspects of the film. For that very reason I shan't be seeing the new 'Lion King' on film though would have LOVED to have seen the stage version.

    Btw: Just watched the trailer for the film of 'Cats' (coming out Dec). Looks somewhat problematic - neither as involving nor cohesive (if one tell that from a trailer) as the original London stage production, which I saw three times. But most definitely SHALL be going to the film.

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  8. And other places outside London!

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  9. I hope that one makes it up North too. I'd love to see it. The film was brilliant.

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  10. I am apparently one of the few who did not enjoy the movie... I was left scratching my head.. but ok... After your review of the play.. i may go back and rewatch the movie.... maybe be i'll 'get it' this time.. thanks John, Hugs! deb

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  11. I found the book fascinating, never saw the film. This play sounds exceptional. I wish I'd have the opportunity to see it but I'm sure it won't be coming to Spain. You lead a very "cultured" life for a nurse with an allotment in a little village in Wales... in a Walking Dead T-shirt.

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  12. I would love to see that.

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  13. More and more John you seem to be smiling. Can't be bad.

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  14. Anonymous12:25 am

    Would love to see that show based on your review. You are living the good life!

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  15. I read the book and saw the film later. Loved them both. The tiger in the play looks amazing. We read the book for book club and many of the group didn't like the book because of the ending...they felt " cheated" I think!

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  16. I've never read this although I've seen it at the used-book store. It didn't appeal to me, but your description sounds different to the one on the cover and now I'll be buying the next copy I see. I'm glad the theatre production was so good. Will you go a second time maybe?

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  17. I totally agree, John. It was an astounding piece of theatre - I wrote about it on my own blog too, http://stanforthsharpe.uk/theatre/life-of-pi ; I'm so pleased that you got to see it and that it put a smile on your face. I often think of you, though I confess I've been rather neglectful at visiting people's lovely blogs of late. Do take good care of yourself. xx

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