Louis de Bernières’s Greek island epic about love across the barricades was first released as a book to endless appreciation in 1994. Since then with a film starring Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz, it has found its place in our hearts.
The story follows a Greek doctor’s daughter, Pelagia (Madison Clare), who falls in love with Italian soldier and mandolin player Captain Antonio Corelli (Alex Mugnaioni) but with the war ongoing things aren’t exactly straight forward. There is also a gorgeous subplot following the love and loss between soldiers Francesco (Fred Fergus) and Carlo (Ryan Donaldson).
Alex Mugnaioni as Captain Corelli is easily likeable with his more down to earth persona than some of the other uptight officers. Madison Clare as Peragia is bold and bossy, with dreams to become a surgeon, no matter how impossible that was for a woman.
The pair are joined by a strong supporting cast, with Joseph Long capturing my heart as Pelagia’s father Dr Iannis. Special mention goes to to Luisa Guerreiro as the hilarious bleating goat who provided many a laugh in sadder times.
Earthquakes and blood splatters are shown on a giant crumpled piece of metal forming a backdrop. This along with a few herb plants and a ladder, this made up most of the simple set. There were other new and unique design elements from tangled wires to clamber through to white gauze over faces of the deceased which was rather disturbing.
This production does feel slow and sluggish in places with elements not quite gelling as seamlessly as desired. I cannot say I have read the book myself but with the entire first act being a build up to meeting Captain Corelli, the first hour felt like a long, yet enjoyable, preliminary tale.
It is frankly quite a harrowing play with moments that send shocks and shudders down your spine. It captures the horrors of war and the purity of the love happening throughout it. Despite this production not having a particularly resonating effect it still makes for an entertaining evening.