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Theatre / Cosi

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Cosi is a play by Louis Nowra, first performed in 1992. It is part of a series of semi-autobiographical plays that also includes Summer of the Aliens and This Much Is True.

Fresh-out-of-university director Lewis accepts a job at a mental hospital running a theatre group for the patients. The group is quickly dominated by the bipolar Roy, who has a passion for theatre and a burning ambition to stage Mozart's opera Così Fan Tutte — a tall order for any theatre company, let alone one where everybody has mental issues and nobody can speak Italian or sing in any language. Additional complications abound, including Lewis finding himself attracted to Julie, one of his cast members.

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A film adaptation was released in 1996, starring Ben Mendelsohn as Lewis and Barry Otto as Roy, with Rachel Griffiths as Lewis's girlfriend Lucy, David Wenham as Doug, and Toni Collette as Julie.


This play contains examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: Roy keeps addressing Lewis as "Jerry".
  • Phrase Catcher: Doug is frequently told to "go burn a cat."
  • Pyromaniac: Doug, who was institutionalized after setting his mother's cats on fire. He asserts that it would all have been okay if his mother hadn't inadvertantly let one of the cats into the house while coming out to see what the noise was.
  • Show Within a Show: The eventual performance of Così fan tutte, considerably abridged and with various other adaptations to the needs and abilities of its performers, occurs as part of the final act of the play.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: At the end of the play, Lewis addresses the audience directly, giving an account of what became of each of the characters.
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