On Wednesday July 14 I saw a show at the Little Theatre on Hiddingh campus for the first time ever. The opening show of Louis Nowra’s COSI, brought to life by The Mechanicals and directed by Scott Sparrow, was a pleasant surprise in return for my initially tentative expectations.
The Mechanicals Company is a lively troupe of professional theatre performers united in 2008 as a self-funded project. Equipped with cutting wit and a flair for contemporary showbiz this energy-driven group of passionate individuals promise to deliver innovative theatre productions right to our doorstep.
With a subplot based on one of Mozart’s most celebrated operas, Cosi fan tutte, this theatrical feast follows the lunatic antics of a band of certified madhatters attempting to re-enact an interpretation of this classic piece. This particular performance of Cost fan tutte takes place in 1971, in Melbourne, Australia, with the cast executing some very convincing Australian accents.
COSI is a semi-autobiographical play written by acclaimed Australian playwright Louis Nowra and was first performed in Melbourne in 1992.
The setting is a burnt out theatre and the characters, unforgettably, each suffer from a degree of lunacy or antisocial behaviour. Take a pyromaniac, a compulsive liar, a drug addict, an obsessive compulsive, somebody suffering from an adjustment disorder, a comatose pianist and a manic depressive and you will have the madcap cast that makes up COSI’s final curtain.
Interestingly there is all but one sane character in this entire fiasco – the lost and adorably bewildered director who one cannot help but to sympathize with as he finds himself thrust into the unexpected role of directing an unruly gang of borderline personalities.
Aptly named ‘The Lunatic Fringe’ as a play on the term coined by Theodore Roosevelt to describe American anarchists, COSI explores the fanaticism that goes hand in hand with social and political movements. With a light-hearted edge and some laugh-out-loud moments, this lovably madcap troupe invites the audience to delve into complex social issues, namely Communism during the Vietnam War, the reasons for insanity and the true meaning of love. In parallel with ‘the lunatic fringe,’ which refers to the radical and irresponsible people in social organization or political party, COSI’s unconventional spin takes this term quite literally by employing actual lunatics to address universal concepts with their antics. In their performance of COSI, the cast of lunatics deliver a humorous medley of contrasts between infidelity and infidelity, sanity and lunacy, inside and outside, loneliness versus solitude...
This stellar performance is brilliantly acted and superbly designed. In true theatre craftsmanship the show succeeds in delivering a charming, funny and heartfelt message to its audience with many laughs in between.
Go and see COSI with an open mind and expected to be charmed, shocked and, of course, entertained by this very human story that reveals many important truths about love, freedom, reason and politics within a hilariously dysfunctional setting. It’s quite a lengthy show, but so entertaining that the approximate two hour long laugh session was one well spent.
COSI is showing at The Little Theatre until 31 July. 021 480 7129
this article is in the current edition of Varsity.
shot for the free tickets.