CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN | London, Rose Theatre Kingston

The multi-million best-selling 1994 novel by British author Louis de Bernières has already been adapted into a hit film (2001) and theatre play (2011); this new adaptation boasts a superb cast and breathtaking direction by the internationally renowned Melly Still. An amazing ensemble cast of fifteen whisk us all over Europe, across the generations, in this epic World War II tale.

The circular thrust stage of the Rose Theatre Kingston remains open and exposed, the only major set piece a gigantic double sheet of crinkled copper (production designer Mayou Trikerioti), onto which dramatic lighting (Malcolm Rippeth) and projections (Dom Baker) take us around the isolated Greek island of Cephalonia and beyond.

We only really meet the inscrutable Corelli (Alex Mugnaioni) in the second half; for the most part, we follow the love life of spunky, proto-feminist Pelagia (Madison Clarke) and how the war destroys her love with both Corelli and Greek local Mandras (Ashley Gayle). The amazing ambiguities and surprising turns of the novel are dealt with sensitively by the whole cast.

In addition to some beautiful mandolin playing, the show’s score (Harry Blake) plays a huge role in creating an atmosphere, especially with guttural, Greek folk-singing by Eve Polycarpou and Luisa Guerreiro. Although not a musical but a “play with songs”, the story-telling of the choreography (George Siena) in particular makes this a truly theatrical event, not just a simple stage adaptation. A class act from beginning to end.

Playing until 12 May 2019, before going on tour.

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