A UNIVERSAL love story in which the very best and very worst of humanity collides is the dominant theme in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin on at Bath’s Theatre Royal until Saturday May 18.

This stunning stage adaptation on its first UK tour marks the 25th anniversary of Louis de Bernières’ best-selling novel. Directed by Melly Still, it has been adapted for the stage by Rona Munro with music composed by Harry Blake.

Set on the Greek island of Cephalonia, the love story evolves against the turbulent backdrop of World War II.

Set in 1941, the idyllic Greek island awakes to find itself in the jaws of war, under Italian and then German occupation. As history unfolds, everything changes.

The production literally drums home the bloody trauma of conflict. People are shot, machine-gunned and bombed in a cacophony of sound and special effects.

The director conveys the themes using spectacle, music, song and movement, including a wonderfully animalistic performance from Luisa Guerreiro as the goat.

The title role in an ensemble cast is played by Alex Mugnaioni  with Madison Clare as Pelagia. Joseph Long plays Dr Iannis while Stewart Scudamore appears as Velisarios.

The cast also features Fred Fergus as Francesco, Ryan Donaldson as Carlo, Ashley Gayle as Mandras, Eve Polycarpou as Drosoula, Kezrena James as Lemoni, Kate Spencer as Günter, Elizabeth Mary Williams as Psipsina, Eliot Giuralarocca as Priest, and Graeme Dalling and John Sandeman as Soldiers.

The spectacle is created by Mayou Trikerioti’s set, which is dominated by a large screen made of jagged metal sheets. This is used to frame scenes abstractly, whether it’s the rumble of tanks, the white lights of a firing squad, the blood-red spillage of war, or an earthquake.

The whole is used to capture the horror and powerlessness of war. I found it thought-provoking.

John Baker