Spoiler alert!! If you’re going to see Filumena at the Almeida, don’t read the following!
Those who follow me on twitter will know that I went to see Filumena last Saturday. This was a light, entertaining play by Eduardo De Filippo.
In Naples, 1940s, Filumena, a former whore, has succeeded in persuading the man she’s lived with for many years, Domenico, a former client, to marry her – she’d convinced him that she was about to die. The moment that the priest pronounced them man and wife, she sprang back into life.
Domenico, who’d planned to instal a new, younger model after Filumena’s anticipated death, was horrified to realise that she was very much alive. He discovers, however, that he can have the marriage annulled because of the lie, and he tells her that he’ll do so.
She confesses to him that she has three adult sons, whom she’d secretly supported throughout their lives, and that she’d wanted to marry him in order to give them his name, but she accepts the annulment.
Before she leaves, she tells him that one of the sons is his, but she won’t say which one. For ten months he tries to find out which is his son, but fails. Finally, she gets him to understand that she won’t identify his son because she wants him to treat them all equally, and then, when all three men address him as ‘Dad’, he relents and marries her.
That’s the end.
The ending was disappointing. I felt that something was missing. I suspected that none of the men was Domenico’s son, but there was no suggestion by word or action – not even by an Anne Robinson style wink to the audience – that this was so.
In addition, just before the second wedding to Domenico, Filumena kept asking him for a drink of water. I assumed that we were about to learn that over the months, she’d become genuinely ill. It would have been an ironic touch. However, this idea wasn’t developed.
The ending could have been so much better- instead it felt quite flat.
Over a drink in the foyer bar afterwards, we got talking about book endings that we’d found disappointing.
I had no problem in coming up with an ending that I felt was a real let-down – the end of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, by Louis de Bernières. Towards the end of the novel, Louis de Bernières makes Captain Corelli do something that is completely out of character, and this, in my opinion, ruins the end of a book that I’d absolutely loved until that point.
What about you? Can you come up with any books that ended in a really disappointing way?