Cosi - Review

The new season, with its theme of Dreams and Visions, got off to a cracking start with a high quality production of Louis Nowra's wonderfully comic play.

Set in an Australian mental asylum, it tells the trials and tribulations of a naïve would-be theatre director, fresh out of University, who has been invited to stage a play with some of the inmates as part of their therapy programme.

Right from the start his plans are hijacked by Roy who, being obsessed with Mozart, coerces Lewis into putting on Cosi Fan Tutte instead. Roy is determined to realise his dream despite the cast being unable to sing or speak Italian.

The play was full of witty lines and theatrical in-jokes interlaced with some political dialogue, the play being set at the time of the Vietnamese War.

The author has created an amazing gallery of characters who inhabit the asylum and, whilst they may be caricatures that we could laugh at, we were also made to feel that they had qualities that made them real.

Jet Tattersall deserves full credit not only for choosing this play but also for its fine direction and the astonishing acting performances that she drew from her cast.

The play worked on two levels. Firstly it could be enjoyed simply as an extremely funny piece of theatre and judging by the guffaws of laughter that rang out during the performance it must have satisfied those members who seek entertainment rather than "serious" theatre.

Secondly, the play could appeal to the intellect as, according to Jet's notes, there was a serious subtext and inner story. Did I discover the play’s hidden meaning? Sorry but I was so busy laughing that I didn't have time.

Given the opportunity to demonstrate high class acting, the cast shone throughout. With the evening being full of so many masterful performances is it fair to mention any individual ones?

In praising Sophie Dearlove for the comic performance of the evening with her portrayal of the sex obsessed, Cherry, am I doing a disservice to Andy Bell who gave, what I thought to be, his best performance to date?

If I found Kate Davies's Julie most touching then what can I say about Alex Childs who was almost unrecognizable as Ruth, an equally fragile creature?

And so I could go on throughout the entire cast list.

The benchmark has been set for the rest of the season and it's going to be very interesting to see how subsequent productions measure up to this high standard.

Barrie Jerram