BBC Radio 4, 1-5 October 2012, BBC Radio 4 Extra, 6 October 2012
Set in contemporary Naples, Le Donne is a violent coming-of-age
story in which Caterina (Indira Varma) reaches the age of forty-three without knowing in any what her husband's business dealings
actually are. Suddenly, and without warning, she is pitchforked into the position of taking over from her husband, and dealing
with all the miscellaneous shady characters that constitute the majority of his clientele.
The task is not an easy one: prejudice runs rife in the world of the Camorra. Women
are expected to be seen and not heard; to stay at home while their spouses continue the real business of making money. Hence
Caterina represents a threat to a male-dominated world. Nor does she receive much help from her associates Salvatore
(Anton Lesser), and Franco (Christopher Fairbank). In the end she has to face a terrible moral choice in order to survive;
the kind of choice that the Camorra deal with on a daily basis. With no scruples to worry about, their decisions are
often easy; Caterina, on the other hand, still considers the moral consequences of her actions.
La Donna revisits the kind of territory most famously explored in The
Godfather and other Mafia-centred texts. Rosalynd Ward's production explores the tension between honesty and deception:
what seems like an 'honest' statement of the truth might be completely false and vice versa. But such distinctions don't really
matter in the world of the Camorra, in which money-making and violence go hand in hand. Although set in the present, the story
is a timeless one.