"Serious but lacking vital intensity"
by Debra Hall for remotegoat on 01/06/19

A community of Greek Island (Cephalonia/Kefalonia) people are living gentle lives. When war in mainland Europe begins to impact, a precious son, (the naively spirited, Mandras), joins the Greeks in fighting the Italians. In the biting cold of the Albanian mountains, and from another perspective within the same conflict, there’s a tragedy brewing between Carlo and Francesco.

Italian soldiers, with no real thirst for the cause, take up residence on the island. The islanders can barely put up with them at first and are resentful; the influential, Dr Iannis and daughter, Pelagia included. The troop's Captain, Corelli is a composer and performer in his civvy life and channels his energy in this vein.

When the island becomes German occupied and the Italians are no longer allies of the Germans; everyone continues to rub along - even when lack of food impacts. By now Corelli had won over the admiration of Dr Iannis and Corelli and Pelagia have fallen in love. Eventually however, Corelli and his Italian soldiers have to fight the Germans on the island as the situation has become untenable. A result of this, is that German soldier/leader, Gunter (another young and idealistic personality) puts duty first.

Love is a theme. Not just a romantic love, but of parental love and unspoken love too. For the love of home; the love of freedom; the love of music. A main topic is about young, naive men going to fight and the horrors of war and the changes it makes to the human spirit. The serenity of leading a simple life twinned with people experiencing horrible conflict, suffering and disaster.

This is a hugely, powerful story. Therefore, quite an undertaking of the monumental kind to adapt and stage perform such an epic tale successfully.

Liking the presence of Luisa Guerreiro playing Goat, and Elizabeth Mary Williams as Pine Marten, Psipsina. Liking too, the little fish and snail props, scenes with their inclusion are lighter, naturalistic and interesting because of of them. In contrast, the visuals projected onto the staging installation, especially the violent ones, twinned with the banging and crashing and lighting effects, and stretching and pulling of lines across stage used to dramatise the story works really well and so these juxtaposing elements are highly praiseworthy.

A talented cast (too many to individually critique in this review of 500 words), know that Joseph Long, Stewart Scudamore and Eve Polycarpou are particularly authentic in their roles, and that Corelli (Alex Mugnaioni) and Pelagia (Madison Clare) a little less so. Reason being the script is more than generous in allowing for the union of these two love birds to a point of being believable. Unfortunately however, (and I use musical terms creatively here) not enough ‘music is made’ and so later scenes merely drag on rather than turn things around in achieving that all important ‘love duet’ successfully.

A few slip ups happened with the mandolin playing in time with the music pieces, nevertheless, it is a hard gig and Mugnaioni does fine with it overall. The sound is laudable and there are some accomplished vocal performances and beautiful harmonies in the musical climaxes.

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