NT Live: Life of Pi
Puppetry, magic and storytelling combine in a unique, Olivier Award-winning stage adaptation of the best-selling novel.
After a cargo ship sinks in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean, a 16-year-old boy named Pi is stranded on a lifeboat with four other survivors – a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan and a Royal Bengal tiger. Time is against them, nature is harsh, who will survive?
Filmed live in London’s West End and featuring state-of-the-art visuals, the epic journey of endurance and hope is bought to life in a breath-taking new way for cinemas screens.
This work contains flashing images which may affect viewers who are susceptible to photosensitive epilepsy.
A young boy, Piscine Patel, known as Pi, grows up as the son of the manager of a zoo in Pondicherry, India. Pi is fascinated by the animals at the zoo, including a Royal Bengal tiger, called Richard Parker due to a clerical error in which the tiger’s name was switched
with the name of its human captor. Raised a Hindu and a vegetarian, Pi contemplates the various benefits and drawbacks of different religions, to the dismay of his parents.
Pi’s father decides to sell the zoo and emigrate with his wife and children to Canada. The family board the Tsimtsum, a Japanese freighter transporting their animals to North America. On its journey, the ship encounters a storm and sinks, killing most of its occupants. Pi escapes in a small lifeboat alongside a hyena, an injured zebra, an orangutan, and the tiger.
The hyena kills the zebra and the orangutan before Richard Parker kills and eats the hyena. Pi slowly trains the tiger, using food to reinforce nonthreatening behaviour. With resources low, Pi catches fish and eats a turtle with Richard Parker to stay alive. In a state of delirium, Pi hears what he believes to be the voice of Richard Parker talking back to him. It is actually the French cook from the ship, who tries to attack Pi but is instead himself killed by Richard Parker.
Later the boat comes ashore on an island inhabited by thousands of meerkats. Pi greedily eats the food available on the island, but upon realizing that the island is carnivorous he and Richard Parker are forced to return to the ocean. Eventually the boat washes up on a beach in Mexico. Richard Parker disappears into the jungle without looking back, while Pi is rescued by locals.
In the present, Pi is questioned by staff at a hospital, as he is the sole survivor of the shipwreck. They reject his story as unbelievable. Pi offers a second story, this time in which he is aboard the lifeboat with his mother, the ship’s cook, and a sailor with a broken leg. The cook kills the sailor and Pi’s mother before Pi finally kills the cook. The investigators note the parallels between the stories, realizing the hyena symbolises the cook, the zebra the sailor, the orangutan Pi’s mother, and the tiger represents Pi. As neither story can be proven true, Pi asks the investigators which story they prefer. They choose the story with animals.