Louis de Bernières’ Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

adapted for the stage by Rona Munro 30 Jul 2023 - 3 Aug 2023

presented by Shattered Windscreen Theatre Company

Louis de Bernière's Greek Island epic about love across the barricades was such a phenomenon in 1994 that the book’s blue and white cover is instantly recognizable to many.  It became a best-seller and a film version was released in 2001, starring Penelope Cruz and Nicolas Cage and featuring John Hurt as Dr Iannis.  It was first adapted for the stage by Mike Maran in 2011 as a collaboration between the Kote Marjanishvili Theatre, Georgia and the Mercury Theatre, Colchester and it combined live actors and puppetry.

This version, by award-winning Scottish writer, Rona Munro premiered in 2019, manages to compress this epic tale into a tight two hours.  Set in 1941, on the Greek island of Kefalonia, the story centres on an island community, subjected to Italian and German occupation.  It is a gripping tale of love and humanity struggling against the horrors of war. 

The story has an epic sweep, ideally suited to the Minack stage (and anything the elements might throw at it!) and will be supported by music and song.

Shattered Windscreen’s previous productions at the Minack include Arabian Nights, Les Enfants du Paradis, Peter Pan, The True Story of Martin Guerre, Coram Boy, Cyrano de Bergerac, Wild Oats, and more recently, The Grapes of Wrath (Minack Trophy – winner 2015), The Wicked Lady 2017, I, Don Quixote (Minack Trophy – runner up 2019), and in 2021, The Thirty Nine Steps.

This amateur production of Captain Corelli's Mandolin is presented by arrangement with Nick Hern Books.

Review by Jenni Balow


A cluster of terracotta roofs has appeared overnight on the cliff at the Minack and the Greek flag is flying against the backdrop of the Ionian Sea. 

You might suppose this is the set for Mamma Mia! but no, this is a village on the island of Kefalonia, where an ambitious adaptation of the world bestselling novel, Captain Corelli's Mandolin unfolds.

The Minack Trophy winning Shattered Windscreen Theatre Company from Hertfordshire has been travelling West with many major productions since 2001, and this is no exception.

With very little time between the last week's show moving out, and a dress rehearsal staged on the same day as its first performance, the set design and construction team, Steve Onyon, Malcolm Budd and Robert Charville quickly got to work creating a sturdy lime-washed terrace of houses.

Therein lives the village doctor Iannis, Des Turner, and his daughter Pelagia, Josie Melton, a goat, Jo Manser, and pine marten managed by pupeteer Calypso Powell.

On the opening night, a very brisk breeze had stirred-up an angry looking grey swell, but nevertheless we were transported south by the warmth of the village ensemble with arms linked  and rhythmically dancing to the live music of The Korreliz, Pete Dawson and Chris Andrews playing mandolin, cello and guitar, with songs sung throughout by Julia Arundale and Calypso.

This is 1941, so many of these lives and this idyll will soon be ended by the Second World War invasion of Greece by the Italian and German armies. The sweet sounds of Verdi will soon contrast with the harsh chorus of an army on the march.

Actor Arthur Roberts, who plays Corporal Francesco, poignantly notes in his useful history of the island in the programme, that Ancient Greece and Italy's Roman Empire in the classical era had led to an intermixing of the cultures.This resulted in less brutal treatment of the locals than in other parts of the world - and in this story, explains the relationship between Capt Corelli, played by Sean Scotchford and Pelagia.

Tragically, the Nazi German soldiers took a different view, and the warfare is often staged in well-worked choreography and dramatic slo-mo by Ashleigh Bassett, with full  'artillery' effects managed by technical team Tristan Cameron, Maddie Lee, Nik Mayes and Andy Pierce, with lighting by Ken Allford and sound by Andy Lee.

Jan Palmer Sayer, assisted by Chris Janes, directs this major production and big team of actors, with a fine eye to detail. At well over two hours long, it held the attention of its sellout audience very successfully, and was certainly helped by the author's slow burn of a story that gives us a little piece of magic at its end.

The entire cast is well chosen, with the gentle giant, Jonathon Wallis, standing out as Sgt Carlo, and youngsters Florence Andrews, and Charlie and Harrison Evans playing their parts as the new generation, along with Gavin Palmer, Helen Budd, Andy Howell, Alex Brace and Liam Evans.

The costumes by Loretta Freeman, Rosamund Barnes and Sarah Budd, with uniforms by Khaki Devil, are  absolutely spot on - as is this epic production.