Captain Corelli’s Mandolin at the Theatre Royal Glasgow Review

25-29 June 2019

Reviewed by Deborah Mackenzie

‘I have always found something in life worth singing about and for that I cannot apologize’ a quote from Corelli.

Based on the novel by Louis de Bernieres and adapted by Rona Munro and directed by Melly Still; between them they did an amazing job in piecing together the characters’ dreams, desires in short scenes that were brought alive by the huge steal backdrop where video projection onto it depicts the sea, flames, blood and more. 

It is timeless love story surrounded my war and madness where everything is upside down; the tension between history and truth of human experience is what Dr Iannis’ struggles with as the play opens as he reads from a history book. He realises that history is made every day.

Dr Iannis lives with his daughter Pelagia, is a headstrong and intelligent who through observing her father over the years has dreams and ambitions to become a doctor.

Pelagia meets a young fisherman, Mandras, and they have a whirlwind romance and quickly become engaged. But war is declared and Mandras decides to go join the fight. Pelagia writes daily but her letters go unanswered.

It is 1941, Italian and German soldiers are posted to Cephallonia, where they are ostracized by the locals. A young captain by the name of Antonio Corelli is assigned to live in the home of Dr Iannis and his daughter, Pelagia. 

Eventually Mandras returns home from the war injured and dishevelled; Pelagia nurses him but realises that she no longer loves him.

Pelagia realises that her heart has been stolen by Captain Corelli who is jovial even in the midst of war, hardship and hatred. After a brief romance he needs to return to Italy after surviving after his battalion is gunned down by the Germans. He promises to return.

Corelli does not return as promised, but Pelagia brings up a baby girl who was left orphaned.

Corelli now an old man and a famous mandolin player returns to the village and explains to Pelagia that he did not come before as he saw her with the baby and believed she had married. He left feeling bitter. 

But after they meet up and talk… Is their love rekindled?

The play was amazing, the lighter side of life through the darkness of war shines through. It is fast paced short scenes bringing the story to life; even with a goat and marten who are on stage a lot of the time.

The scene with the snails, where they go out to collect them for food due to shortages is very cleverly done. The singing is amazing and left me yearning to hear more.

It is a play worth seeing as it shows a different side to war and life as they struggle to coincide.

Rating: 5/5

Tickets cost from £13 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow from 25-29 June 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit or call the box office on 0844 871 7647.

Theatre Royal, 282 Hope Street, Glasgow, G2 3QA | 0844 871 7647

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