Captivating storytelling, magical visuals, and a gripping narrative; Life of Pi with its fantastical puppetry was an absolute triumph from start to finish.
Based on the best-selling book by Yann Martel, this Sheffield Theatres production set its stall out firmly to enrapture its audiences with rich visual spectacles and cinematic flair, and it achieves it in style.
To give you the briefest of synopses, our title character, Piscine, who refers to himself as Pi, is heading for Canada on a boat with his family, with a host of animals from their zoo in tow. A fierce storm strikes, leaving Pi stranded on a small boat with a few animals for company.
As Pi reveals more and more of his survival story, the truth of the tale unravels, leaving both the investigators and us as audience members to ponder which version of events we would rather believe.
But putting aside the extraordinary tale, it's the more extraordinary staging of the story that was the most compelling part. Every single one of the puppets, from Richard Parker the tiger to even the smallest of fish, and their puppeteers of course, helped create a magical feast for the eyes.
It wasn't all about the puppets though, and huge credit must be given to the sublime performance from Divesh Subaskaran in the title role. His was a performance full of heart, humour, and physicality, and it turns out this production was his professional debut.
Divesh was supported by a wonderful cast, with his family members played by Chand Martinez, Keshini MIsha, and Goldy Notay, in particular giving warm and at times funny performances.
It matters not whether you've read the book, or like me, seen the Oscar-winning 2012 Ang Lee directed film, this is all about the theatre in all its creative and imaginative glory. Don't miss it.
Life of Pi continues at Norwich Theatre Royal until Saturday, September 30, 2023