Talking Theatre: Kezrina James Discusses West-End Success, Captain Corelli's Mandolin
The first major stage production of Louis de Bernières’ best-selling novel, Captain Correlli’s Mandolin, is currently playing the Harold Pinter Theatre in London’s West End, following rave reviews and a hugely successful UK tour.
Captain Correlli’s Mandolin is directed by Olivier and Tony Award nominee Melly Still and has been adapted by Evening Standard Award-winner and Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominee Rona Munro. 2019 marks 25 years since the book was first published.
Starring Alex Mugnaioni as Captain Antonio Corelli, Madison Clare as Pelagia, Joseph Long as Dr Iannis, Ryan Donaldson as Carlo, Ashley Gayle as Mandras and Fred Fergus as Francesco. The cast also features Cardiff born Kezrena James as Lemoni.
An epic love story set on the Greek island of Cephalonia. Captain Correlli’s Mandolin follows the lives of Dr Iannis, his beautiful, strong-willed daughter Pelagia and the Italian Captain Antonio Corelli, during the Italian and German occupation of the island in World War II.
“Lemoni goes from the ages of 6 to 12,” says Kezrena James of her character, “She provides a bit of light relief in the story. The production gives you the time and feeling of war and what people are going through as well as a love story.”
Kezrena went back to the original book to research her role but also delved further.
“I also specifically looked at children living in Greece at that time and what they would be doing, how they were affected by the war situation,” says Kezrena.
Kezrena has been passionate about acting since she was young.
“I knew I wanted to perform,” she says, “I didn’t know I could make a career out of it. I was brought up on black and white movies featuring Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire and Bette Davis, all the classics.”
Kezrena was encouraged to perform by her family from a young age and gained stage experience at Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre and The Workshop.
She would ultimately become a student at The Guildford School of Acting before taking to the stage in a variety of productions including Othello, Macbeth (at Hammersmith Lyric & Home, Manchester), The Little Matchgirl (Shakespeare’s Globe/Bristol Old Vic) and Medea (Bristol Old Vic).
As well as her stage roles, Kezrena is also noted for her voice-over work and appearing in audio dramas including Torchwood with John Barrowman and Eve Myles.
“That was fun because you could just rock up in your pyjamas and look a bit rough,” laughs Kezrena, “ultimately it’s just about your voice!”
“I did one called The Searchers, it’s a famous Western, the audition was over the phone. I didn’t meet anyone, I had to do a Southern American accent which was cool. Voice work isn’t based on what background or what colour you are, it’s just about your voice. You have the script in front of you and its pretty chilled. You don’t have to think about what you physically look like. It just means the voice must be sharp and ready to go because it can get tired quite easily.”
Although Kezrena enjoys the ease of audio work, she loves the immediacy of been on the stage.
Kezrena enthuses, “I love theatre because it’s a live audience and I can change it every night. I really get a buzz off that; I love a live audience!”
The actress’ enthusiasm for the current stage presentation of Captain Correlli’s Mandolin is also evident
“Captain Correlli’s Mandolin is very much an ensemble piece,” explains Kezrena, “There’s a lot of music, obviously the mandolin, but also lovely music composed by Harry Blake.”
“Visually its quite stunning, it comes to life in a different way that you wouldn’t normally get from watching a straight play.”
“Any age can relate to it, young or old, it’s quite an important tale to tell at this time. At the heart of it, it’s about love in all shapes and sizes.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin plays at the Harold Pinter Theatre, Panton Street, London, SW1Y 4DN from 4 July – 31 August 2019.
Performance Times are Monday - Saturday 7.30pm with matinees on Thursday & Saturday at 2.30pm
For ticket details call the box office on 0844 871 7622 or visit www.atgtickets.com/venues/harold-pinter-theatre