Theatre review: Filumena at the Almeida Theatre
Review of the Almeida’s latest new translation of Italian playwright Eduardo De Filippo’s 1940s play
The Almeida is well known for its stunning set designs and here it has replicated the breezy idyll of 1940s Naples with style, staging Filumena inside a lush, sun-dappled courtyard.
From this romantic location, surely designed to make the audience daydream of balmy Italian holidays, a conveyor belt of characters take to the stage each in turn injecting light comedic charm into this post-war play.
And there is plenty of humour to be found in Eduardo De Filippo’s script. Here, he tells the story of Filumena (Samantha Spiro), the long-suffering mistress of the brutish and selfish Domenico (Clive Wood), who tricks him into marrying her by pretending to be on her death bed.
But no sooner has he recovered from the shock of her all too healthy demeanour, than this formidable woman produces a few surprises, in the form of three illegitimate sons, to keep the aging playboy on his toes.
While the one-liners are biting and the relationships and characterisation compelling against a backdrop of class and gender conflict, sadly the story itself lacks the substance to carry it through.
Filumena’s backstory and her reasons for wanting to trick Domenico into marriage are what fuel the play through to its conclusion, yet these are never fully resolved and the theatrical fire it opens with simply fizzles out by the time the curtain falls.
- 1 Islington men charged after jewellery store robbery
- 2 Hit Brighton food hall operator to open Upper Street venue
- 3 Man charged after staff assault at Barking Asda
- 4 New Aldi on Old Street to open this month
- 5 Old Bailey: Pair enter pleas over Alex Smith murder
- 6 Siblings open community-oriented park coffee hut
- 7 Homes under the Planner: Schemes submitted or approved in Islington in June
- 8 Man charged with 1974 murder of woman found in Highbury
- 9 Guilty: 4 teenagers admit 27 offences after series of 19 robberies
- 10 Islington scammers jailed after preying on elderly victims
However Spiro’s resilient take on the embittered former prostitute is a delight to watch, filling the stage with a joyful mix of self-assurance and vulnerability. But while the acting is strong and the stage design a real attraction, the play fails to deliver on the dramatic punch it has teased us with from the beginning.
* Filumena is showing at the Almeida Theatre, Almeida Street, N1, until May 12.