translated by Timberlake Wertenbaker
Filumena is de Filippo’s best-known work and arguably his finest comedy-drama, drenched in Neapolitan atmosphere and full of entanglements at once cynical and romantic.
In the heat of late-1940s Naples, Filumena Maraturano lies on her deathbed awaiting her marriage to Domenico Soriano, the man who has kept her as his mistress for twenty-seven years. But no sooner has the priest completed the ceremony than Filumena makes a miraculous recovery. As he reels in shock, Domenico discovers that this brilliant, iron-willed woman has a few more surprises for him.
Is Filumena a simple, illiterate woman who wants to create a family for her children, or a ferine, opportunistic prostitute? Will Domenico, the selfish aged gigolo, learn to accept his responsibilities? Exploring themes of family, age and love, Filumena exemplifies De Filippo’s trademark moral optimism and warmth, coupled with unflinchingly astute and humorous observation of his characters.
This striking translation by Timberlake Wertenbaker was first performed at the Piccadilly Theatre, London, in 1998.