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Captain Corelli’s Mandolin review at Valvona Crolla

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We are lucky that bestselling novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin has found its natural home with master storytellers Mike Maran and Philip Contini. Armed only with a handful of props – a cardboard motorbike, wooden goat, three swivelling heads to make up the opera society – and the occasional song, they weave anew Louis de Bernieres’ magical tale of Cephalonia.

Occupied during the Second World War by Italian and Nazi troops, the Greek island is where Captain Corelli falls in love with Pelagia, the local doctor’s daughter. The realities of war, however, conspire against their love and tragedy threatens the gentle comedy of everyday life on the isle.

Confidently dishing out the characters between them, Maran and Contini are so relaxed in each other’s company that they finish off each other’s sentences in conveying the humour, passion and horror of the events that swirl around Pelagia and her beloved music-loving captain.

Of course there wouldn’t be a story without a mandolin and Alison Stephens provides haunting melodies on the instrument throughout, adding guitar, tuba and trumpet – and with a snare drum staccato she represents the shock of the firing squad – to Anne Evans’ lyrical piano and flute. Their soundtrack is as expressive and emotional as the words they accompany. They’ve been doing this since 1999 but the production is as fresh as the first day they did it. A spellbinding experience.

Production Information

Valvona & Crolla, August 10-15

Louis de Bernieres, adapted by Mike Maran and Philip Contini
Mike Maran
Mike Maran Productions, Escalator East to Edinburgh
Mike Maran, Philip Contini, Alison Stephens, Anne Evans
Running time
1hr 20mins

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