The bloody Duchess of Malfi at the Old Vic
Chuckling at the Tobacco Factory's Cherry Orchard

The charm of Filumena @AlmeidaTheatre but is it enough?

Filumena%20455Filumena is a curious little play.  The premise of Italian Eduardo De Filippo's story is that our heroine has faked a near death illness in order to get her lover of 25-years standing to marry her. On the pronouncement of being husband and wife Filumena (Samantha Spiro) miraculously recovers, earning the ire of lover Domenico (Clive Wood).

However there is more to Filumena's plotting than meets the eye - she has a grand plan but will her beloved Domenico play ball?

It is a play that is both charming in its depiction of the battle of the sexes (there are shades of Much Ado About Nothing) but it is also a little frustrating. Maybe it was just me but the second half seemed to be building towards something that is never quite satisfactorily realised.

Filumena is a great character, a woman of spirit and pluck and fundamentally a good soul. Clive Wood balances Domenico the selfish, arrogant philanderer with a softer, gentler man who just needs to be nudged down the right path.

Both leads put in sterling performances - it's great to see Spiro in such a spirited role again. It is also very nicely produced. The house courtyard setting, bedecked with flowers and a wonderful soundtrack of bird song and insects chirruping is like an advert for holidays in Italy's yellow-stoned Tuscan towns.

It is entertaining, amusing and charming but the second half seems to run out of fizz. Yes both characters learn something and are better as a result but it just wasn't quite enough. There was an element of drama, another twist or revelation that was hinted at but not realised. Perhaps we were spoilt in the first half, perhaps we are supposed to accept what is, like Domenico? 

As a result it's nudging four stars but not quite so I'm going to give it three and a half.

Filumena runs at the Almeida until May 12.


Not a direct one but Clive Wood was in Flare Path with Sienna Miller who play Mr W's girlfriend in the film Layer Cake.