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Everything you need to know about ‘Life of Pi’ in the West End

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

Could you survive a shipwreck on your own, and sail across the world for 227 days? Could you co-habitate alongside a Royal Bengal tiger? Now could you do both of these things at the same time?

For Pi, a young boy who finds himself the sole human survivor of a shipwreck, he must do the unthinkable and travel across the world by himself and survive to tell the tale. While travelling, Pi finds himself in truly unexplainable circumstances, and when he recalls his journey once on dry land, everyone questions him. Discover the life of Piscine Patel in Life of Pi on stage.

Yann Martel’s Life of Pi was first published in 2001, and then adapted into a film a decade later. See Pi and Richard Parker the tiger in Lolita Chakrabarti's stage adaptation of Life of Pi. Join Pi and a menagerie of animals in this sensational, multi-award-winning play.

From how to get Life of Pi tickets to when to see Life of Pi, here’s your ultimate guide to Life of Pi.

Book Life of Pi tickets on London Theatre.

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What is Life of Pi about?

At the start of the Life of Pi play, audiences are introduced to the Patel family. Piscine Patel (named after a love of swimming pools) tries to find himself in a chaotic world, and discovers peace in Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam while growing up in Pondicherry. When his family realises he’s an omnist, they try to understand how Pi views the world. But at the same time, the Patel family prepare for a circumnavigation to Canada, and lock up all their zoo animals.

Nobody could expect what happens next for the Patel family though. During one torrential storm at sea, the Patel family lose everything, with many of them dying. Pi’s the only Patel family member left, and he alone must ensure the safety of a Bengal tiger (named Richard Parker), a hyena, a zebra, and an orangutan.

During their 227 days at sea, the unexpected group comes against a variety of stressful situations and their lives are all at peril. Once they make it to land, Pi is immediately interrogated by the authorities as they question what happened at sea. As Pi recalls what happened, it’s clear that travelling solo for that long affected his mind.

Where is Life of Pi playing?

Life of Pi is playing at the Wyndham’s Theatre in the West End. The Wyndham’s Theatre is a central London venue located on Leicester Square. It’s near to other theatres including the Noel Coward Theatre and the Duke of York’s Theatre.

How long is Life of Pi?

The Life of Pi plays posts a running time of 2 hours and 10 minutes. There is a 15-minute interval in the Life of Pi play.

What days is Life of Pi?

Life of Pi plays eight performances a week at the Wyndham’s Theatre. There are evening performances on Wednesday through Monday, and matinee performances on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. There are no Life of Pi performances on Tuesday. For the complete performance schedule and show times, please visit the Life of Pi page to learn more.

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When did Life of Pi premiere?

Life of Pi premiered at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, where it ran for a month from 28 June to 20 July. Life of Pi reviews were extremely positive, and praised the innovative storytelling methods. Life of Pi was then due to transfer to the Wyndham’s Theatre in June 2020, however performances were cancelled due to the pandemic.

Life of Pi eventually came to the West End in 2021, with previews from 15 Noember and an opening night on 2 December. Life of Pi is currently running at the Wyndham’s Theatre.

Who wrote Life of Pi?

Lolita Chakrabarti adapted Yann Martel’s Life of Pi story for the stage. Her notable plays include Red Velvet in the West End, and Hymn at the Almeida Theatre. You may have also seen her on screen; she’s starred in television series such as The Casual Vacancy and Riviera. In 2021, Chakrabarti received an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to drama.

Life of Pi cast

Hiran Abeysekera plays Pi in Life of Pi. He’s played the role in both the Sheffield and West End productions. The cast includes Mina Anwar as Ma, Nicholas Khan as Father, Payal Mistry as Rani, Tom Espiner as Father Martin and Commander Grant-Jones, Raj Ghatak as Mamaji and Pandit-Ji, Syreeta Kumar as Mrs Biology Kumar and Zaida Khan, David K.S. Tse as Mr Okamoto, Kirsten Foster as Lulu Chen, Habib Nasib Nader as Cook and Voice of Tiger, Nuwah Hugh Perera as Pi alternate, Alex Chang and Deeivya Meir.

Many actors help bring the tiger, Richard Parker, to life in Life of Pi. Fred Davis and Tom Larkin are the Tiger Head, Daisy Franks and Scarlet Wilderink are the Tiger Heart and Romina Hytten and Tom Stacy are the Tiger Hind. Find out more about Richard Parker, the tiger, in Life of Pi from puppet designers Nick Barnes and Finn Caldwell.

Life of Pi characters

As Life of Pi mainly follows one boy’s troubles at sea, there aren’t many human characters in Life of Pi. By the end of the show, you’ll wish you could spend more time with the Life of Pi animals though, as they’re beautifully brought to life through puppets. Find out more about Pi Patel in Life of Pi.

Piscine Patel: What is Life of Pi without Pi? Before the Patel family set sail, Pi's family run a zoo and they plan on emigrating from Pondicherry, India, to Canada. Pi struggles to find stability in his daily life, and seeks calm in religion. The polytheist's life turns upside down when he's the only survivor after the Tsimtsum ship sinks. Consequently, he's on a lifeboat for 227 days with a hyena, a zebra, and an orangutan, and a Royal Bengal tiger for company. After drifting at sea, Pi ends up in Mexico, and is immediately called in for questioning. As Pi recounts what happened at sea, it becomes apparent that the animals are symbols for his family and peers. We won't reveal who they are here, you'll have to see Life of Pi on stage to find out more.

While Life of Pi may centre around Pi, there's many characters in the show. You'll be introduced to Mr Okamoto and Lulu Chen, two researchers who probe Pi to discover how his journey was possible. You'll also meet the Patel family, the pious people of Pondicherry, and the workers on board the Tsimtsum ship.

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What awards has Life of Pi won?

Life of Pi didn’t only wow audiences and critics, it’s also stunned awarding bodies. So much so, Life of Pi was the runaway drama winner at the 2022 Olivier Awards. Check out all the Olivier Award nominations and wins below, with winning categories in bold.

Olivier Awards

Best New Play
Best Director - Max Webster
Best Actor - Hiran Abeysekera
Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Fred Davis, Daisy Franks, Romina Hytten, Tom Larkin, Habib Nasib Nader, Tom Stacy and Scarlet Wilderink
Best Sound Design - Carolyn Downing
Best Lighting Design - Andrzej Goulding and Tim Lutkin
Best Set Design - Tim Hatley (set), Nick Barnes and Finn Caldwell (puppetry)
Best Theatre Choreographer - Finn Caldwell
Best Original Score or New Orchestrations Andrew T. Mackay

How to get Life of Pi tickets

Don’t miss out on the Olivier Award-winning play, Life of Pi, in the West End. In a Life of Pi review for London Theatre, we stated it’s a “theatrical testament to creative brilliance” complete with incredible puppets and wonderful storytelling. Book Life of Pi tickets today to avoid missing out on one of London’s best spectacles.

Life of Pi tickets are available now. Book tickets to Life of Pi on London Theatre today.

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Photo credit: Life of Pi (Photos courtesy of production)

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