Based on Yann Martel’s bestselling novel, “Life of Pi” has come to Broadway, featuring Hiran Abeysekera reprising his role that won him an Olivier Award on London’s stage. The production, directed by Max Webster, proves to be an outstanding adaptation that stays loyal to the book’s narrative and sets itself apart from the 2012 film adaptation by replacing VFX creatures with fully articulated life-size puppets. The stage is populated with a plethora of animals that interact with Pi, a teenage boy, who finds himself drfiting in the Pacific on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
As the plot unravels, Pi tells his unbelievable story of survival to an investigator sent to investigate why the ship he was on, along with his family and their zoo animals, sank to the bottom of the ocean. The investigator, a no-nonsense person, doesn’t believe in religion, and Pi finds himself trying to convince him of his story’s truth. However, the heart of the story is not merely survival, but it delves deeper into religion, faith, and the possibilities of the human mind, giving the audience an emotionally charged tale.
The production owes a lot of its success to the talented puppet designers, Finn Caldwell and his co-designer Nick Barnes. The creatures they bring to life on stage are incredibly realistic, breathing life and adding depth to the production. Other designers, such as set and costume designer Tim Hatley, video designer Andrzej Goulding, and lighting designer Tim Lutkin, deserve praise for their excellent work that makes the production look stunning.
While “Life of Pi’s” stacked-deck ending may seem unconvincing to some viewers, its visual and emotional appeal makes up for it. The story showed how human beings can overcome even the most impossible scenarios and embedded a captivatingly spiritual message that speaks to everyone in the audience, regardless of religion or beliefs. All in all, “Life of Pi” on Broadway deserves its glowing accolades, and those who go to see it should come out entertained and satisfied.