Review: Life of Pi

Undeniably the most spectacular play of the Broadway season! Based on the novel by Yann Martel (which was also made into an Academy Award-winning film), adapted by Bengali-British Lolita Chakrabati, this version of Life of Pi swept the Olivier Awards in 2022. The taut Hiran Abeysekera plays Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel; it’s no surprise he’s taut, Pi is an extremely physical role.

Pi is the son of a Tamil-Indian zookeeper. In the mid-1970s a time of turmoil in India called “The Emergency” compels his family and their animals to depart for Canada on a cargo ship. The ship sinks, forcing Pi to share a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Pi survives at sea for 227 days after the shipwreck. The tiger, and for that matter all of the animals in the zoo, are played by incredibly lifelike puppets designed by Nick Barnes and Finn Caldwell; the puppeteers bring them to magnificent life, fully acting their emotions. As a matter of fact the puppeteers won the Olivier for Best Supporting Actor!

The weight of the show’s story is on Abeysekera’s shoulders and he carries it with vigorous enthusiasm and athleticism. The video design and animation by Andrzej Goulding effectively evokes all the settings, from India to Mexico (where Pi ends up) and most stunningly the open sea. Director Max Webster packs the production full of surprises, with great help from Tim Hatley’s endlessly clever set design. Highly recommended.

For tickets, click here.

For more more about Jonathan Warman’s directing works, see


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