A fine ensemble delivers a performance that you would “be mad to miss”.
Louis Nowra’s play Cosi written in the 1970’s against a background of Vietnam War demonstrations, a society grappling with increasing drug addiction, and a prevalence of so-called free love, is an illustration of kindness and tolerance and ultimate understanding for those battling with various forms of mental illness. This play explores the common humanity in all and develops affection for the disparate characters.
Matt Chapman is very well cast as Lewis the inexperienced director brought in to provide a creative personal development program for volunteers from the asylum wards – a gentle and polite man whose patience is well and truly tested by his cast, while coping with disruptions in his own personal life.
The cast of patients is superb. April Stuart gives a remarkable performance as Roy dominating both director and players in his insistence to stage Cosi Fan Tutte. This is a subtle, sensitive yet hilarious portrayal. Brian Godfrey as Henry is convincingly tragi-comic. Henry’s affliction is expressed through his initial silence and physical distortion, both of which are cause for empathy and hilarity as the story unfolds.
Jethro Pidd as Doug, a disturbed and unrepentant pyromaniac, is a scene-stealer bringing a strong energetic force to the stage and frequently causing embarrassment and chaos.
Michelle Hvratin as Cherry is colourfully mercurial as she flits between her sarcastic, aggressive, nurturing and amorous moods. Jenny Allan is both endearing and funny as Ruth with her compulsive behaviour and constant need for reassurance.
Alyssa Peters as drug addict Julie brings some youthful ‘normality’ to the group and potential romance, but then nothing is at it seems. And then there is Rory Miller Frost as Zac in his own disturbed world of musical insanity to round out the troupe.
Laura Evans (Lucy), Tom Edmonds-Wilson (Nick) and Nathan Brown (Justin) provide strong support as Lewis’ girlfriend, Lewis’ political friend, and asylum social worker respectively. But the outside world struggles to compete with the small theatrical world in the asylum.
The mental picture of the Cosi cast in costume when they eventually produce their play will stay with me – loved the wigs.
Congratulations to Director Megan Dansie and the production team and crew for staying true to the spirit of this play and portraying multi-faceted characters deserving of the affection and understanding that they generated.