Life of Pi at The New Victoria Theatre, Woking – a review

by Jan

Last night we were invited* to the New Victoria Theatre in Woking for a performance of Life of Pi.  This award-winning show has come to Woking from the West End, as part of its UK tour.

The show opened in March 2023 on Broadway and has already won 5 Olivier Awards and 3 Tony Awards, including Best New Play and Best Actor.

Life of Pi is Lolita Chakrabarti’s stage adaption of Yann Martel’s best-selling novel by the same name.  The book, published in 2001,  was an outstanding success, winning the Man Brooker Prize and selling over 15 million copies worldwide.

*I received tickets for Life of Pi at The New Victoria Theatre, Woking in return for this review. All opinions are my own.

Life of Pi at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking

Poster for the Life of Pi at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking

In the current performance, Divesh Sibaskaram makes his professional debut in the central role of Pi.  Joining him is a team of puppeteers, who skillfuly animate the puppets.  The producer is Simon Friend.

Life of Pi is running at Woking from Monday 2nd to Saturday 7th October  2023.  Afterwards, it will move to Southend, Cardiff, Canterbury, and Bradford.  The performance starts at 7.30pm and the running time is 2h 10 with an interval.

The story of Life of Pi

Pi with Tiger on boat, in stage show of Life of Pi

Life of Pi is the story of 17-year-old Indian boy Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel who is stranded on a life boat for 227 days at sea.  What makes his journey exceptional is his crewmates, most notably an enormous Bengal tiger, Richard Parker.

When the cargo ship sinks in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Pi finds himself alone with four other survivors – a hyena, a zebra, an orang-utan, and the tiger.

The story is one of survival, endurance, and hope.  Unfortunately, the orang-utan and hyena don’t fare well at the hands of the hyena.  However, Pi and the tiger manage to co-exist for the entire journey, both sharing a strong desire to live.

Our review

Pi with oar protecting himself from the tiger in Life of Pi theatre show

I read the book many years ago and loved it.  Before the show, I vaguely knew the plot, but didn’t have a clue how they’d adapt this amazing novel for the stage.  How would they bring a 450 lb Bengal tiger to life?

The answer is puppets.  Seven puppeteers worked tirelessly throughout the show to portray the animal characters.  This is no mean feat as the animal puppets are extremely heavy and require a strong physical strength.  However, the puppetry is sensational, with such accuracy that brings the creatures to life.

The special effects throughout the show are jaw-dropping.  Slick set changes allow the story to flow seamlessly between a hospital room in Mexico and a lifeboat on the Atlantic Ocean.

Life of Pi has a talented cast who captivate the audience.  We were gripped from beginning to end.  If you haven’t already seen it, the show is running until Saturday.

Click here to find out more about Life of Pi and book tickets on the New Victoria Theatre Website.

We’re lucky to live so close to the New Victoria Theatre, as it gets all the top shows coming out of London, without the journey!  We can get there in under half an hour and park within a few minutes’ walk of the theatre.  This all adds to a fantastic evening.

Click here for more amazing events taking place in Surrey this autumn.

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