YANN Martel's Man Booker Prize-winning novel is, it was suggested earlier this week, one of the best-sellers that nobody actually reads. If this is really the case, coffee-table purchasers desperate to impress dinner-party guests (rather than, say, be enlightened) could do worse than brush up via this rollickingly vivid stage version from Bradford's multi-racial Twisting Yarn company.
Here they'll be sucked into the world of Pi Patel, the bright-eyed Indian boy who believes in God so much that he becomes not just a Hindu but a Christian and a Muslim too. Brought up in his parents' zoo, he sets sail for Canada with a zebra, an orang-utan called Orange Juice and a tiger called Richard Parker in tow. When their ship is sunk, alas, Pi and his increasingly magical companions must learn to fend for themselves.
Director Keith Robinson, writer Andy Rashleigh and - crucially - designer Naomi Parker themselves embarked on an awfully big adventure when they opted to stage Martel's opus with only six actors. But the whole thing is neatly condensed into two hours, and they've worked miracles with a yarn that's part religious debate and part rite of passage.
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Tony Hasnath is a little charmer as Pi, with an equally perky ensemble illustrating the multicoloured imaginings that help him survive a world that prefers hard fact over fantasy.
One suspects Twisting Yarn's core funders operate in a similarly dreary manner as they prepare to axe their support. Given that the company is the sole body approved by Martel to produce this stage version, Bradford Council is effectively robbing audiences of a rich and vital experience that's unlikely to be repeated.