Preview: Life of Pi, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

Preview: Life of Pi, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

Lolita Chakrabarti’s dazzling Olivier Award winning stage adaption of Yann Martel’s best-selling novel, Life of Pi, will journey to Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre from Tuesday 14 to Saturday 18 May 2024.

Based on one of the best-loved works of fiction – winner of the Man Booker Prize, selling over fifteen million copies worldwide – Life of Pi is a breath-taking new theatrical adaptation of an epic journey of endurance and hope.

After a cargo ship sinks in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean, there are five survivors stranded on a single lifeboat – a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, a sixteen-year-old boy and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger.

Time is against them, nature is harsh, who will survive?

Life of Pi stars an extraordinary life-size puppeteered Bengal Tiger, and the role of Pi will be taken by Divesh Subaskaran, with Adwitha Arumugam alternating the role at certain performances.

The puppeteers do such an amazing job that it is sometimes pretty scary being up there,” explains Divesh. “They do these intense animal studies and a lot of the sounds you hear on stage are coming from the puppeteers.

“At the beginning it was difficult to know what that relationship was going to be like, but the more you go through the movement patterns, the more you understand the relationship and if I take a step closer, this killing machine will eat me alive.

“It’s about maintaining that level of tension between myself and the animal. The tiger has been built to look like a real thing and it has a mind of its own.

“The puppeteers dictate where it goes and it’s not the same every time. We’re playing this game – one night the tiger might actually kill me!”

Adwitha adds:It’s so much fun. It’s almost better than working with human beings. With the tiger puppet it’s so much more alive because there are three human beings bringing it to life.

“The power and presence of the puppet is so much bigger. Irrespective of how many times you’ve seen the puppet, when the tiger is coming at you trying to kill you, you run!”

Tickets for Life of Pi (Tuesday 14 – Saturday 18 May 2024) are on sale at or 02380 711811.

  • In Common is not for profit. We rely on donations from readers to keep the site running. Could you help to support us for as little as 25p a week? Please help us to carry on offering independent grass roots media. Visit: