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Cosi by Louis Nowra

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Cosi is a play written by Louis Nowra in the 1970’s. The comedy is about an inexperienced director, Lewis, who chooses to earn some cash and gain professional experience by working with a group of mental patients in Melbourne and directing a play for them to perform. Although the play is a comedy, there is many real messages throughout the play that are deeply significant, these messages are explored through different themes such as the nature of madness which is best showed in the characters; Roy and Doug, self-growth and identity which we see through Lewis and a very important theme the play revolves around is love and fidelity.

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One of the main themes in Cosi, is the central idea of personal growth. All characters experience growth, however, Lewis’ personal growth is the most significant as his simple dialogue states “no one can sing” exemplifying his negatively towards the patients. This is juxtaposed to his dialogue. “This comes first” when Lewis begins to see the play as his top priority.

His transformation is outlined through Lucy’s dialogue “Working with these people has changed you.” showing Lucy’s thoughts concerning Lewis. Lewis’ inner journey has provided him with a new understanding of not only himself but the world around him. It is Nowra’s portrayal of Lewis, whose personal growth through the play exemplifies the sympathetic nature of humanity, which suggests the ability to care for others, and to valiantly defend worthwhile causes is an indispensable human characteristic. Initially portrayed as lacking assertiveness, Lewis’s progression throughout the play, both in terms of developing confidence in directing and a rejection of contemporary values, suggests people can be caring and can expect consideration from others.

Another theme is Cosi is to do with the nature of madness. The characters are not what you expect from a patient in a mental institution. Roy is extremely articulate and Doug is very witty. Although all the patients have problems they are able to learn their lines and act very well. They are more likeable than Lucy and Nick who inhabit the outside world and have a very negative view on mental patients. Lewis is hesitant to take on the role of director at first because he thinks of all the patients as mad but learns that they are ordinary people with different needs. It also shows the state of the mental institutions of the time in Australia. This is symbolized by the burnt out theatre at the mental institution. Humour is a largely used technique in Cosi as it has an effect of humanizing the characters and we laugh with the patients not at them, we stop seeing them in a stereotypical way, instead we see them as real people but people with real problems. The play is structured around the issue of love and fidelity as the play was written in the era when hippies began to influence Melbourne with the idea of free love.

This is shown in Act 1 Scene Two when Doug, who hates women, says: ” Women like to pretend they don’t play around but they’re just more secretive about it.” The idea of free love is that you provide love for everybody, rejecting the ideas of loyalty and commitment. Lucy, Lewis’ girlfriend supports free love whereas Lewis does not, and this is why their relationship does not work, because Lucy claims that they are “not married” so it is acceptable to “have sex” with Lewis’ friend Nick and to “sleep with” Lewis. The play “Cosi Fan Tutte” heavily symbolizes love and fidelity as it is revolved around this issue and all of the characters have very different views and opinions of the topic.

In conclusion, the play gives the audience the idea that mental patients are just ordinary people with different needs and that sometimes it is ‘sane’ people who need the real help. Nowra proves that spending time with the ‘insane’ people Lewis gains empathy for them and makes the play his number one priority. The humour used without the play really helps the audience connect with the characters.

Cite this Cosi by Louis Nowra

Cosi by Louis Nowra. (2016, May 05). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/cosi-by-louis-nowra-essay/

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