Multi-award-winning play Life of Pi is setting sail for performances at Milton Keynes Theatre this month.
The West End spectacle, which won five Olivier awards (including best new play), is touring the UK for the first time. Theatregoers can look forward to a story of survival and strong will, imaginatively brought to the stage with incredible puppetry and state-of-the-art visuals.
Life of Pi made huge waves as a best-selling novel and an Oscar-winning film before being adapted as a powerful theatrical experience. It tells the story of an Indian teenager, Pi, who survives a harrowing shipwreck and spends months lost at sea, stranded on a lifeboat. Pi goes through this ordeal in the company of four wild animals – a badly injured zebra, a vicious hyena, a motherly orangutan and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
Time is against them. Nature is harsh. Who will survive?
Life of Pi is based on Canadian author Yann Martel’s celebrated novel, which was published in 2001. It won the Man Booker Prize in 2002 and has sold over fifteen million copies worldwide. The subsequent 2012 film, which had an adapted screenplay written by David Magee and was directed by Ang Lee, was nominated for three Golden Globe awards and eleven academy awards. It won the Golden Globe for best original score and four academy awards, including best director for Lee.
Following the success of the novel and the film, the stage play was highly anticipated. It premiered at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield in June 2019 before transferring to Wyndham’s Theatre in London’s West End in November 2021. The run continued until 15 January 2023 and Life of Pi is now a roaring success beyond the West End. A Broadway production opened in the spring, a European tour will follow the UK and Ireland tour and there are plans for a tour of Australia and Asia.
The West End production triumphed at the 2022 Laurence Olivier Awards, winning best new play, best set design, best lighting design, best actor and best actor in a supporting role. In a historic first for the awards ceremony, the seven puppeteers who bring Bengal tiger ‘Richard Parker’ to life were collectively awarded the Olivier for best actor in a supporting role.
Life of Pi was adapted for the stage by Lolita Chakrabarti, with direction by Max Webster. It features set and costume designs by Tim Hatley, puppet design by Nick Barnes and Finn Caldwell, and puppetry and movement direction by Finn Caldwell. Other creatives include composer Andrew Mackay, lighting designer Tim Lutkin and video designer Andrzej Goulding.
Expect to be immersed in an epic journey of endurance and hope.
Running time: Approximately 2 hours 5 minutes, including an interval.
*Production photography by Johan Persson.
This preview is also featured on Total MK.
Update 21 September 2023: Read my review of Life of Pi at Milton Keynes Theatre.
Georgina Butler is an editor, a dance writer and a ballet teacher.