So a captain, six kings theatre... acclaimed
In-demand playwright on how inspiration
It remains one of the world’s most popular novels, an enduring, sun-dappled story of love, war and music.
Now one of Scotland’s most talented writers is bringing Captain Corelli’s Mandolin to the stage.
And Rona Munro, who has written a series of acclaimed plays and TV shows, admits the challenge of adapting such a popular bestseller, first published in 1994 before selling three million copies, was daunting.
The epic love story is set on the Greek island of Cephalonia during its Italian and German occupation in the Second World War and Rona said turning the tale into a play needed a lot of care, adding: “The novel is huge, so you have to look at how to keep the essence of it and also make a good piece of theatre.
“It’s about making people feel what they felt when they read the book but finding your own way of doing what the original writer did.”
The play, which will reach Edinburgh and Glasgow next summer, is only one of a series of projects on Rona’s slate in recent times.
She has collaborated with author Ian Rankin on the first stage incarnation of fictional detective John Rebus, which was at the King’s Theatre in the capital last week.
And her adaptation of My Name Is Lucy Barton was on in London’s West End over the summer, with Hollywood star Laura Linney playing the title character, while a second production of Rona’s 2009 play, The Last Witch, is currently on tour in Scotland.
“It’s been a busy couple of years and there’s been a lot of dotting around but I’d much rather be at home, as I am now, just walking the dog and writing – that’s a good day,” said Rona.
She would also have been relaxing in front of the TV last Sunday with a special interest as Jodie Whittaker became the first woman to play Doctor Who.
Rona, who wrote the acclaimed Bold Girls and The James Plays trilogy, is the only person to have written for both the classic and revived versions of the long-running sci-fi show.
She scripted the final three episodes of the old series in 1989, when Sylvester Mccoy was the Doctor, and returned last year when Peter Capaldi was in the role.
“It’s fabulous that Jodie has the role. She’s fantastic,” said Rona. “Everyone will forget about it within a few episodes as the role is not about gender. It’s more profound than that.
“If it wasn’t such an iconic series and with 12 actors having previously played the part, I don’t think anyone would even be commenting on this in the 21st century.
“I don’t believe the writing will change either just because it’s a female who is in the role. Doctor Who is Doctor Who.
“When you write for the series, it goes beyond character and gender, it’s just a certain something that makes it the Doctor, built up by all of the people who have played the character over the years.”
Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor Who, above, and Rona Munro, left, who counts the sci-fi series among her many writing credits Penelope Cruz and Nicolas Cage in 2001 version of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which Rona Munro is adapting for stage