Theatre Review: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Martina O'BoyleTheatre, Theatre Review, UKLeave a Comment

theatre review captain corelli's

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Corelli finally hits the stage. Did you read the book Captain Corelli’s Mandolin? Millions worldwide did and I remember seeing it clutched in the hands of a good percentage of UK commuters in the 90s. Or, did you see the 2001 movie? It was during Nicolas Cage’s post-Oscar period of sanity, and co-starred Penelope Cruz.

Great Greek scenery. I sort of remember it was… fine. Mostly don’t recall much of the film, just that it was not nearly as good as that Louis de Bernières’s 1994 bestseller – nice looking, of course, it was a bit of wartime Romeo and Juliet set on the picturesque but lonely Greek island of Cephalonia. A local girl falling for a soldier is the main idea, because he can play the guitar – sorry, mandolin – to bridge the language gap, and he is sensitive about the fact that he and his mates have invaded her village. While reading, you don’t hear Cage’s crazy Italian accent, so choose the book. Or, perhaps, the stage version.

Wartime Greece at the Harold Pinter Theatre

So how to recreate the sunshine and breeze and unfortunately war, on a stage? This production, at London’s Harold Pinter Theatre, comes up with imaginative ideas courtesy of designer Mayou Trikerioti, using very bendy people and bendy sheets of copper to mimic the movement of the sea, and also the impact of the conflicts shells and shots. Visually engaging, this sort of overshadows the slightly flimsy story.

Directed by Melly Still and adapted by Rona Munro, this decent adaptation asks ethical questions of that star-crossed lovers situation – is it okay to far in love with a man who, while not exactly your captor, is part of the evil empire? Should you, can you, put love before loyalty?

Up to you. In the strong female lead we have Madison Clare, as Pelagia (the Cruz role), she is optimistic and determined for a better future, war be damned, as a doctor. Taking the title role is Alex Mugnaioni, steady, believably romantic but possibly less focused on the fact that there is a war a-blazing. Though, if we want to be kind, it is 1941, maybe a brief time for the Italian soldiers to be optimistic that this nonsense would end soon.  Hang on there, Cephalonia, Uncle Sam’s coming.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

The suppressed love affair between two Italian soldiers from the book is included, but aside from that fresh-for-the-era side story, the main romantic arc is perhaps what we would expect, old-fashioned courting that is happening in an “all the rules are thrown out” setting. Pelagia has the home field advantage and yes, she might want to be a doctor, but who can resist a dude with a guitar? Sorry, mandolin.

Booking through August 31


More PCB Theater (and Theatre) reviews:

Will fans appreciate a musical take on Game of Thrones?
The show is called Punts, with a “p”, and it’s great
The popular novel is a smash hit: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

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Martina O'BoyleTheatre Review: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin