Lockdown one year on: Hiran Abeysekera on how Covid nixed his West End debut

“Iwas frightened that I probably won’t have the option to do Pi once more,” says Hiran Abeysekera, who was planning to move his cheerfully got 2019 execution in Existence of Pi toward the West End when the pandemic hit. “We were kidding that when theaters at long last resumed, I’d have silver hair and a mobile stick. Individuals would go: ‘Hiran, would you actually like to do Pi?’ And I’d resemble: ‘I can’t do it any more, man, I’m excessively old!'”

Abeysekera, who is an extremely energetic and excited 35, moved on from Rada in 2011. His credits incorporate The Subduing of the Vixen at the RSC and Peter Dish at Official’s Park, and he played Puck in a lively BBC variation, by Russell T Davies, of A Midsummer Night’s Fantasy in 2016. Yet, Life of Pi in the West End was an undeniable advancement second. Lolita Chakrabarti’s stage variation of the Booker prize-winning novel by Yann Martel got five-star surveys when it opened at the Sheffield Pot, and Abeysekera’s presentation as Piscine “Pi” Patel – wrecked with different zoo creatures, including a voracious tiger – was hailed as star-production. The Watchman called it “magnificent”, noticing that “the entertainer has the appeal, mind and earnestness to make him his very own convincing storyteller mysterious pragmatist story”. Our own commentator portrayed Abeysekera’s exhibition as “incredibly solid”.

In the event that things had gone to design, Life of Pi would have opened at Wyndham’s venue last June, giving Abeysekera his first lead job in the West End. All things considered, when theaters had to shut in Walk 2020, he withdrew to a companion’s home in Dorset to stand by out the lockdown, his advancement second cast into uncertainty.A year later, Abeysekera is back in his local Sri Lanka visiting his folks, remaining at his dad’s home right external Colombo. Talking over Zoom during a heavy deluge, he is amazingly cheery about the difficulty. This is somewhat on the grounds that his whole profession has been, as he puts it, “a rush of fortune”, none of it arranged or expected. At the point when Abeysekera was growing up his dad was a specialist, updating old vehicles and selling them on – regularly beneath market esteem – to local people. His mom showed English, which gave Abeysekera a head start with the language. At school in Colombo, a magnetic instructor acquainted him with Shakespeare. Afterward, he joined a youngsters’ theater, making his introduction in Goldilocks and the Three Bears (he played a parrot, attached to give the story a Sri Lankan flavor).

Playing the lead part in an English Board creation of Equus in Columbo in 2007, he was seen by the theater chief Willi Richards, who flew him over to the UK to try out for different dramatization schools. (“What’s show school?” was Abeysekera’s reaction when the thought was first proposed.) Inside a month he was offered a grant to Rada, and at 23 started his new life in London, moving in with Richards and his accomplice at their home in Deptford, where he still lives.The move to the UK, and his acting triumphs, were sudden to such an extent that he actually thinks that its all very difficult to process. “Life has given me beyond what I might have envisioned,” he says. “In Sri Lanka, I never suspected I’d do a play at the West End.”

Life of Pi represented a significant test. The part was actually and vocally requesting, and Abeysekera needed to become acclimated to facing a huge tiger manikin constrained by three individuals (development chief Finn Caldwell had chipped away at War Pony, of which Life of Pi has been depicted as “a commendable replacement”). Issues were all the while being resolved in reviews, with scenes being cut ultimately, yet in spite of specialized hiccups, Sheffield crowds were enchanted. On the premiere night “everyone was on their feet”, Abeysekera reviews. “There was a tempest of acclaim. I was unable to accept how much individuals adored it.”