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Louis de Bernières, Valvona and Crolla - Edinburgh Festival web reviews, August 2005.

Valvona and Crolla - 'Three Weeks in Edinburgh' August 2005

As Louis de Bernières sits down with a mandolin, the jokes could be all too easy. But i'll spare you my hilarious puns and simply tell you that this was a show comprising of poetry and music, mainly taken from the Renaissance and Medieval periods. He is an experienced musician and is joined by his two charming assistants, the Antonius Players. The scene is reminiscent of a Jane Austen novel: de Bernières the benevolent father, inviting us into the drawing room to show off his most accomplished daughters. Though at times his apparently spontaneous comments can feel overly -scripted, he is a welcoming and gracious host, and his love of what he does is apparent in his tales of lovingly rescuing instruments from tiny junk shops. Three Weeks rating 4/5 - A very good example of this show's genre.

Valvona & Crolla - Louis de Bernières

LOUIS de Bernières is an accomplished and, thanks to Captain Corelli's Mandolin, best-selling author but, when it comes to performing music, by his own admission he is an amateur.

Accompanied by some delicate flute work from two professionals, Ilone Antonius-Jones and Tina Gandy of the Antonius Players, the boyishly affable author played quite a few instruments - guitars, lute, banjo and, of course, the fabled mandolin. In this instance he strummed, rather than plucked, an old Playford tune. Other pieces ranged from a "fake Renaissance" ronde, with the audience rattling away cheerfully on distributed percussion, to a Satie Gymnopedie (de Bernières faltering slightly on guitar), plus the author's affectionate if quavery singing of Barbara Allen and Whisky in the Jar. These were interspersed with his poetry readings - the warmth of his own It Is Time, a whiff of the Mediterranean from Cavafy's Ithica, and a funny Rupert Brooke poem about fish heaven.

Charming, if occasionally indulgent. (JIM GILCHRIST)

BERNIERES - Valvona & Crolla
My companion this evening described this as “A Rich Man’s Folly”. This is perhaps not wrong, but when you’ve got the money from writing the book which became the film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, who’s counting? I wasn’t sure what to expect of this author-now-mandolin & guitar player, making music and reading poetry with his guests the Antonius Players (a 2-woman flute trio!). In fact although a little self-indulgent, de Bernières’s real strength lies is his self-deprecating humour and gentle style. Not all the poetry is his – far from it in fact – and the music mixed from various programmes he has presented in the past makes an appealing blend. This is one of the quirkier shows that makes the Fringe special, and makes a most pleasant way to spend an hour.

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