Questi fantasmi (1990)

Directed by Enzo Sirna


Pasquale Lojacono (anima in pena)……….Luciano Pinto
Maria, sua moglie (anima perduta)……….Angela Signorile
Alfredo Marigliano (anima irrequieta)……….Enzo Sirna
Armida, sua moglie (anima triste)……….Carmela Briguglio-Brodzki
Sivia, sua figlia (anima innocente)……….Patricia Sapienza
Arturo, suo figlio (anima innocente)……….Carlo Sportiello
Raffaele, portiere (anima nera)……….Bruno Napolitano
Carmela, sua sorella (anima dannata)……….Franca Potalivo
Gastone Califano (anima libera)……….Tony Rapanaro
Saverio Califano, maestro di musica (anima inutile)……….Elio Raspa
Maddalena, sua moglie (anima inutile)……….Teresa ArcAi??
Primo Facchino (anima condannata)……….Nick Cappa
Secondo Facchino (anima condannata)……….Ross Romeo
Ciro……….Bill Vocisano
Cuoco……….Sandro Ambrosino
Cameriere……….Helen Monastra; Lara Potalivo
Professor Santanna (anima utile, ma non compare mai)

A well controlled mixture of diverse motives, themes and tones makes this a very original and unique play: comical yet bordering on the tragic, realistic and even cynical though sustained by an unconscious if grotesque belief in the spirit world, dramatic yet suffused with pathos at crucial points, Questi fantasmi! is truly a ai???one-of-a-kindai??? type of play. All the characters are vividly depicted in their individual reality which is governed by their selfish desires and personal illusions.

Pasquale Lojacono, the main character who is defined buy the author as a ai???soul in tormentai???, is a pathetic figure of the chronic unemployed who, at 45 years of age, is a perennial victim of misfortune but of society also; he relies on his wits and determination to survive. His main desire is simply for himself and his young wife Maria to live comfortably, but he has failed to achieve this goal to the point of self-withdrawal into a state of inertia and isolation which is driving Maria away from him, much to his dismay. Pasqualeai??i??s strong desire to restore communication with Maria finally makes him firmly believe in the generosity of a ai???kind spiritai???, and he appears totally oblivious to any other interpretation. His steadfast belief seems quite innocent, and he cannot be shaken out of it either by his wifeai??i??s growing contempt for him or by the othersai??i?? attacks on him.

Pasqualeai??i??s existential condition is perhaps meant to be symptomatic of a society in need of reform and change. (The play was written in 1946 and followed Napoli milionaria!; Pasqualeai??i??s inferiority complex and his sense of inadequacy could well be taken as an accurate portrayal of the national image of Italians at that stage in their history). Eduardo De Filippoai??i??s hopes must have been that all the ai???ghostsai??? oppressing especially the ordinary individual in society (unemployment and social deprivation, isolation and fears caused mostly by poverty, deceit of self and of others for whatever reason, the idea of success and failure judged simply in terms of money and material things etc.) might one day be vanquished for good. Pasqualeai??i??s real fears concerning his existential condition motivate his belief in ghosts, and there is a lot of sympathy for him in his comically grotesque struggle to calm his unconscious fear of these same ghosts in the first instance. In this regard, Pasqualeai??i??s innocence and defencelessness are as believable as his torment is humanly real.

The subtle humour of this play springs from De Filippoai??i??s painful awareness of the basic contradiction he has depicted in Pasqualeai??i??s key scenes: a very theatrical kind of contradiction between the individualai??i??s idealistic search for an absolute kind of solution for all his problems and the harshness of a world in which existence is obstructed by mistrust and by fears of all sorts, by deprivation and humiliation. In the end, Pasquale still clings desperately to the social compulsion to equate success and happiness with money, and there is a great sadness and even a hint of the tragic in the final irony of his destiny as he puts his trust once again in the vain illusion that money will solve all his problems. The final question we should ask is perhaps this: ai???Will man ever be free of all his ai???ghostsai??? as he struggles to surviveai??i???ai???