The Life of Pi was visually stunning as it opened at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre on Tuesday evening.

Based on the best-selling book by Yann Martel, the Olivier Award winning play follows Pi – a young girl who finds herself stranded alone on a lifeboat with a Royal Bengal tiger after a cargo ship sinks in the Pacific Ocean, that was transporting her family and variety of zoo animals from India to Canada, having left their homeland in search of a new life.

Adwitha Arumugam starred as Pi during the Mayflower’s opening night of the play – taking over from Divesh Subaskaran – that saw the role seamlessly gender swapped.

Arumugam was incredible in the lead role, producing a multi-layered performance, often having to react off incredibly lifelike puppetry, featuring a talking tiger and a gangly orangutan.

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The supporting cast didn’t miss a beat, with the audience quickly buying into the story and feeling emotionally attached to the characters.

One criticism of the opening night performance would be that the audio seemed a tad low at times, although this wasn’t helped by a couple three seats along from me in the auditorium opting to eat what sounded like a three-course meal throughout the entirety of the show.

Heads were awkwardly turning throughout the duration of the performance as endless rummaging through packets of Maltesers and Fruit Pastilles, as well as tubes of Pringles contributed to the loudest rustling possible – it’s a miracle the lady sat in front of me didn’t storm out as she grew more and more visibly frustrated, as did most people within ear shot.

Perhaps the couple in question thought they were going to the cinema to watch the 2012 film, Life of Pi?

It’s credit to the cast and the production’s amazing visuals that the play wasn’t completely ruined by the actions of two inconsiderate noisy eaters.

It was so distracting, that I almost forgot the beginning of The Life of Pi was delayed for 15-minutes due to a technical issue, though the quality of the play soon made up for it.