The first major stage version of Life of Pi has been hailed as “unmissable” and “pure theatrical magic” in a string of five-star reviews.
The adaptation of Yann Martel’s best-selling novel has had its premiere at Sheffield’s Crucible theatre.
It is “a stunning show” that takes the audience on “extraordinary journey”, according to The Guardian.
The newspaper’s review, by critic Ann Treneman, concluded: “Roar it out: this is a hit.”
The Daily Telegraph’s Dominic Cavendish, meanwhile, declared it “a worthy successor to War Horse”.
He wrote: “We’ve been waiting a while for the ‘next’ War Horse – a theatrical phenomenon that can hold a family audience spell-bound, spur the imagination and make the heart race… It looks as though that moment has arrived.”
Cavendish awarded the play four stars, and said that if there’s a shortcoming, “it’s that it leaves you craving more”.
Martel’s Booker Prize-winning novel told the story of a 16-year-old Indian boy who sets off to emigrate with his family, but becomes trapped on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with a tiger for company.
It was adapted for the big screen in 2012 in a film directed by Ang Lee, which won the filmmaker one of four Oscars.
The Guardian’s Mark Fisher described the way the new stage show switches between settings as “a triumph of transformative stagecraft”, and praised Hiran Abeysekera’s “superb central performance”.
“If it underplays the novel’s tone of helpless desperation, boredom and privation, it nonetheless does tremendous justice to the author’s imaginative canvas,” he wrote.
In his five-star WhatsOnStage review, Ron Simpson wrote that everything in director Max Webster and playwright Lolita Chakrabarti’s “shrewd and sensitive adaptation works perfectly and much of it astonishes”.
Five more stars were bestowed by Ruth Deller on Broadway World, who said:“That the show manages to conjure up the magic of the novel, grapple with its complex themes and provide a thoroughly enthralling experience in less than two hours’ running time (plus interval) is a testament to the sharpness of the direction.”
And The Stage’s critic John Murphy wrote: “It’s not hard to imagine Life of Pi having a lifespan beyond its short, three-week run at the Crucible. It’s a captivating and thrillingly realised show, suffused with stage magic – a testament to the power of imagination.”
Source: BBC Online