and joint ventures are familiar features of our theatrical landscape
in these hard times, but few so adventurous, or as enchanting, as
this Captain Corelli.
is based on Mike Maran's magical story-teller's adapatation, and here
Maran himself plays Dr Iannis, with his trademark deadpan, deliberate
delivery. As if the thoughts and feelings are dragged from deep in
his soul. But this time the other characters are not left to our
imagination, but spill out from Maran's mind as exquisite rod
puppets, worked by a talented team of ten puppeteers, who also
occasionally act as the Cephalonia crowds.
discover Iannis sitting cross-legged by his late wife's grave,
sharing his wine and his thoughts, sketching in the political
background and his personal pre-occupations.
among them his sixteen-year-old daughter Pelagia. She is played by
leading Georgian actor Natalie
Kakhidze, totally convincing both as the innocent, idealistic
teenager, and in the touching closing scene, as the grandmother who
finally confronts her Corelli, a lifetime too late.
stalwart Tony Casement plays the Italian captain, in a memorable
performance full of swagger and humour; musicality, too, though alas
we never hear his mandolin. Gus Gallagher is Mandras, the illiterate
fisherman and freedom fighter. Roger Delves-Broughton contributes
several character roles, notably Roger, the British secret agent who
effects Corelli's escape from the island.
puppets also make their mark as the people of the island. Though it
has to be said that from the back of the auditorium one would lose
much of the nuance and the subtlety of their movements, and the
exquisite details of their features [they were designed and made by
Nino Namitcheishvili]. I liked round little Father Arsenios, and of
course the audience's favourite, the little pet goat.
Tsuladze's production, first seen last month at the Kote
Marjanishvili Theatre, Tbilisi, was full of effective stagecraft –
the candle-lit procession, the triumphant arrival of the Italian
forces, the parachute angel, and the “Titanic” moment with
Pelagia and Corelli on the motorbike, longing for the world that
awaits them “after the war”.
there was much intimate emotion too, like the scene where Corelli
talks of symmetry, or the final confrontation between Pelagia and
Mandras, who has kept her letters, and now has learnt to read them. I
missed the tenderness of Carlo's love for Corelli, and his sacrifice
only becomes clear here in recollection, but the heart of the story,
and its lessons about love in its many forms, and about lives
tarnished by war, survive strongly in this unique version. It ends,
of course, with Iannis's headstone joining the others on the island,
and his daughter walking off arguing with her Italian captain, before
cast, puppets and puppeteers take their calls to the strains of
Corelli's catchy theme-tune – Tornero.