Drama school graduate Adwitha Arumugam gives an absolutely astounding performance in her debut role in the West End sensation Life of Pi at Bath’s Theatre Royal.

For one so young, she commands the stage as the 16-year Pi cast adrift in the Pacific Ocean for 227 days with only an extraordinary life-size Bengal Tiger, a hyena, an orangutan and a zebra for company.

But good as she is in a very physical performance – and in my humble opinion she thoroughly deserves a standing ovation – the true stars of this production are inevitably the puppetry team.

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This Is Wiltshire: Adwitha Arumugam in the Life of Pi. Photo: Jake StewartAdwitha Arumugam in the Life of Pi. Photo: Jake Stewart (Image: Jake Stewart)

After conquering London’s West End and Broadway, Lolita Chakrabarti’s dazzling, five-time Olivier Award-winning stage adaption of Yann Martel’s best-selling novel brings jaw-dropping visuals and world-class puppetry to Bath.

After a cargo ship sinks in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean while transporting an Indian zookeeper, his family and animals to a new life in Canada, there are five survivors stranded on a single lifeboat.

Based on one of the best-loved works of fiction and winner of the Man Booker Prize, which has sold over 15 million copies worldwide - Life of Pi is a breath-taking new theatrical adaptation of an epic journey of endurance and hope.

Divesh Subaskaran makes his professional debut in the central role of Pi, with Adwitha Arumugam alternating. She was playing the role at Wednesday’s opening night (May 22) at Theatre Royal Bath.

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They are joined by Goldy Notay as Amma; Ralph Birtwell as Father; Sonya Venugopal as Rani and understudy Pi; Sharita Oomeer and Bhawna Bhawsar as Lulu Chen and Mrs Biology Kumar; Chand Martinez as Pandit-ji, Mamaji and Admiral Balbir Singh; Lilian Tsang as Mrs Okamoto, Zaida Khan and Ship’s Captain; Vinesh Veerasami as Russian Sailor.

Antony Antunes is the Tiger Hind, Cook and Father Martin; Peter Twose is Tiger Head, Cook and Father Martin; Kate Rowsell, Romina Hytten, Aizah Khan and Katie Kennedy-Rose play Tiger Heart and Hind; Akash Heer and Sebastian Goffin play Tiger Head, and Tom Stacy is Tiger Hind and Puppet Captain.

This Is Wiltshire: Life of Pi at Bath's Theatre Royal. Photo: Johan PerssonLife of Pi at Bath's Theatre Royal. Photo: Johan Persson (Image: Johan Persson)

Directed by Max Webster, the extraordinary animals in Life of Pi are brought to life by Puppet and Movement Director Finn Caldwell and the actors who move them.

The puppetry is breathtaking and visually overwhelming in its life-size realism – all credit to those performers who deservedly won awards for their performances.

The colours, design and movement of the puppets are amazing. Every action, no matter how small, never ceases to amaze and I found the production absolutely gripping.

It is complemented by fantastically superb staging, sound and lighting, including videos of towering waves and the storm that sinks the cargo ship.

Somehow they manage to make the stage and backdrop look so realistic that you believes that Pi and the tiger are really in a boat in the middle of the ocean.

The production adds up to an intense, emotional story of survival and triumph against the odds, with themes of faith, friendship, and perseverance.

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Despite all the harrowing obstacles that Pi encounters, he remains determined and optimistic, relying on his strong faith to see him through every challenge he faces.

The production transports you to that world and, if you haven’t already seen it, Life of Pi is well worth the ticket price. The only note of caution is that some young people may find some of the scenes upsetting.

Life of Pi appears at the Theatre Royal Bath to Saturday, May 25. To book tickets contact the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 or visit theatreroyal.org.uk