Captain Corelli's Mandolin at The Rose Theatre
Ah, the Rose Theatre.

I'm back at my local theatre after a gap. It's a strange theatre. Not a traditional proscenium arch, more of a theatre in the round. It's based on the original Elizabethan Rose Theatre. Theatre can be quite raw in a space like this, and sets tend to be minimal, with seating being less traditional in the layout.
Initially I felt this could be a long night, as the set was sparse, and the cast mimicked holding items, instead of having props. A goat and a cat were played by two actors, and an old guy was peeing in the plants.

Sticking with it, the story unfolds introducing wars involving Italians, Greeks and Germans, and a love story at its heart evolves through the turmoil.

I soon settle when I hear some of the quality singing from some of the male voices. Deep and powerful, high and angelic, each of the cast bringing an additional talent to their acting skills. 

The story comes to life when the Captain himself arrives towards the end of act one, and we hear the delightful strumming on his mandolin. It's a sweet sound that you don't often hear, and Alex Mugnaioni plays the instrument in a soft and gentle manner which creates a romantic atmosphere. Handsome, Italian looking and a talented actor, as well as a musical talent, he made me think he was perfectly cast and almost irreplaceable playing the title role. 

It's a significantly complex story and tough to bring to stage. It works though, thanks largely due to Director Melly Still. A lot of the creative decisions that were made were quite astounding. From the high quality physical acting from the cat and goat, to using solider's backpacks to good effect in explosions and gunfire. The lighting was an equally starring part of the performance, and the sound brought it all to life. The haunting vocals of Eve Polycarpou as Drosoula, created a kind of primal scream effect coming from deep within her and the sound designer added some exciting effects echoing it around the stage.

I could name check most of the cast for their talents in this performance, and I might just do that. I loved Madison Clare's passion and commitment as Pelagia and it was also nice hearing a Scottish accent on a London stage from Graeme Dalling who played an officer. Ryan Donaldson's beautiful tuneful voice and Ashley Gayle's acting depth were also worthy of note. Joseph Long as Dr Iannis and Stewart Scudamore as Velisarios both added performance maturity to the cast. Finally, I couldn't end without praising the acrobatics and slinkiness of  Elizabeth Mary Williams and the brave Luisa Guerreiro committing fully to the physicality of goat.

An excellent performance all round and one that comes together perfectly.
Meeeh !

Captain Corelli's Mandoin is playing at the Rose Theatre until 12th May 2019.

Review by Douglas McFarlane