Louis De Bernieres’ novel of love and war is a modern classic, and without question creates some tricky elements to ensure a theatrical production can live up to expectations.
The time span of fifty years and passages of narrative are a task for the director and cast. The result is an odd mix of styles and intent, which eventually settle in Act 2 to meet some of those expectations.
At the start of World War Two, the Greek town of Cephalonia is turned upside down as Greece enters the conflict.
The brutality of war, lack of food and hardship is balanced by the beginning of relationships and existing love. The plot focuses on the love between two soldiers, and a Greek doctor’s daughter, Pelagia, who falls in love with Italian soldier-stroke-musician Captain Antonio Corelli.
Melly Still, directing, has opted for some stunning physical theatre work interspersed with naturalistic love scenes.
Movement Director George Siena has provided some graphic moments of war, and glorious suggestions of fishing alongside the changing seasons. However, it is a piece that could be edited further to ensure the pace does not falter.
The imposing design from Mayou Trikerioti allows great use of projection on what could possibly be a crumpled copper love letter.
The violence of the earthquakes, bombing and firing squad are captured effectively, the abstract images are powerful and dramatic.
The performances are good, and the music is both evocative and moving, especially when set against the horrors of war and loss. These musical sections are far more effective than the script.
Sadly, the love between the two soldiers is a plot device lost early on, and never explored further.
Pelagia is destined to wait for the men to return and to reflect on her loss of opportunity and happiness. As a result, the central love story feels somehow diluted by the far more successful demonstration of the impact of the surrounding war.
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Reviewer: Petra Schofield
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, based on the novel by Louis de Bernières, adapted by Rona Munro and directed by Melly Still, is showing at the Theatre Royal in Bath until Saturday 18th May 2019.
For more information, and tickets, visit the Theatre Royal website.