History of Western Theatre: 17th Century to Now/Early Italian 21st

Fausto Paravidino

Paravidino presented two sisters and a brother living with their father and the troubles that ensue

Fausto Paravidino (1976-?) disclosed family problems a-plenty in “La malattia della famiglia M” (Illness in the M Family, 2009).

“In Paravidino’s plays, the private is explored for its political dimensions, and the political is exposed for its reverberations in the private sphere…Paravidino is a keen observer of human illness and psychology. His characters are often afflicted by hypochondria or actual diseases, curable or incurable, congenital, acquired or psychosomatic, whose causes Paravidino traces back to urgent political issues in our society, such as the material conditions in which personal interactions take place in late capitalism and during the financial crisis” (Laera, 2020 p 299).

Illness in the M Family

A reckless Gianni accuses his sister of a lack of imagination and heads out driving in a snowstorm

Time: 2000s. Place: Italy.

Maria complains that as a couple she and Fulvio rarely go out together and that he never initiates any type of discussion. He defends himself by saying that there is nowhere to go and that she always starts to talk before he has a chance to. While Maria and her brother, Gianni, are out with friends, their sister, Marta, takes care of their father, Luigi, in the early stages of dementia, who gets up one morning looking for his shoes where it used to be in the old house. Gianni worries that Marta’s excessive amount of chores around the house may lead her to depression, but Luigi denies that possibility. When next they meet, Fulvio announces to Fabrizio that he thinks he no longer loves Maria. “I think that she would like me to be inspired by trash-TV,” Fulvio supposes. “And if she leaves you, what would you feel?” his friend asks. “I don’t know,” he answers. “But when she threatens me, I’m not afraid.” Although they had agreed to meet, Fulvio leaves before Maria arrives, only to find Fabrizio. “I remembered that you were to meet,” Fabrizio explains, “I stayed so that if you showed up, I would let you know that Fulvio went back home.” Back home, Gianni answers the phone but hears no voice at the end of the line. “It’s someone who wants to let it be known that he exists,” Marta opines. When the phone rings a short time later, Luigi takes up the receiver, but again there is no answer. He echoes Marta’s opinion on the subject and then gathers the family for a talk. But no one has anything to say as the phone rings a third time. One rainy evening, Gianni holds forth on man’s rapport with nature, but Maria dismisses him on the basis that he talks just to hear himself talk. She is startled by the sudden appearance of Fabrizio in the rain at the window, who offers her roses. She reminds him that Fulvio is his friend and it is impossible for them to go further in this matter. But when the lights go out, he kisses her. When the lights return, Marta discovers her sister with the roses and Fabrizio inside the house. Maria introduces Fabrizio as Fulvio, which he confirms. Knowing Fulvio’s relation with her sister, Marta invites him to lunch the following day. Later that night, the lights are out again as a drunk Gianni discovers Marta sitting alone. He recognizes that she does everything in the house while he and Maria do nothing, exhausted as their mother was before committing suicide, but she denies that she killed herself. News about the presumed invitation to Fulvio for lunch excites Luigi, glad to think that the family will increase. Later, Fulvio invites Fabrizio to smell his hand with Maria’s odor on it. Since the two have not met in a week, Fabrizio disputes that claim. Fulvio assures him that, despite their troubles, he still wants to remain with Maria. When Fulvio calls up at M’s house, Luigi reminds him that he is invited for lunch. His arrival surprises Maria as much as Fabrizio when he arrives carrying another bunch of roses and Gianni, who asks him his name. “Fabrizio,” Fabrizio answers, who goes on to admit that he loves Maria. For her part, she is uncertain whether she loves Fabrizio. “It might be the time to concentrate,” Fulvio declares. “I thought that you were only waiting for the time I would leave you,” she retorts. Luigi and Marta enter, he thinking that Fabrizio is Fulvio and she thinking Fabrizio is Fulvio until at last all is made clearer, Fulvio insisting that he is Maria’s true love. “It’s easy to do as we want, but we can’t always act that way. Now, I’m the one who takes the situation in hand. Let each have his say and let’s see whether we arrive at clarifying our ideas a little. It is well to love but indispensable to reason, too,” Luigi declares, requesting Marta to bring in the food. But, disgusted by the situation, she refuses. He slaps her face and she slaps back. He slowly leaves the room. At dawn, Luigi and Gianni prepare to go out hunting, but Marta tries to prevent them, because the weather is too cold and they have neither a gun permit nor a dog. Luigi submits, but Gianni, accusing her of a lack of imagination, goes out anyway. While consulting with Dr Cristofolini about her father, Marta feels his interest in herself and repudiates the idea of having a family of her own. Exasperated by his caring tone, she kisses him violently on the lips, then leaves. Fabrizio enters next in a pitiable state, pretending to have had a car accident, but in reality the victim of a severe beating inflicted by Fulvio. Gianni overhears Maria speaking on the phone about her abortions and wants to hear more, but she turns away from him. Finding no support from Luigi and Marta, he leaves abruptly in a snowstorm. Fulvio wishes that he and Maria would continue together, but she no longer wants to. Gianni re-enters in a hyperexcited state, victim of a car accident, found in a field by Fabrizio. When Gianni starts vomiting, Marta rushes to the phone for the doctor, but it is too late. He falls asleep and dies from a cerebral hemorrhage. After the funeral, Marta and Maria leave their father in an institution and go away together while Fulvio and Fabrizio remain friends as before.