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Cosi - Lane Cove Theatre Company

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by Brydie Wright (subscribe)
I'm a children's book author, radio presenter of 'By the Book' for Radio Northern Beaches, and freelance writer. Check out www.brydiewright.com for more about
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Classically Irreverent Aussie Humour

"Couldn't direct traffic down a one-way street," says Roy of the hapless Lewis, whose task of directing the mentally ill in an operatic performance, is nigh on impossible…

And so, begins the mayhem that is Cosi, by renowned playwright Louis Nowra, in its most recent outing with the Lane Cove Theatre Company (LCTC).

Cosi, Cosi by Louis Nowra, Louis Nowra, Cosi fan tutte, Debbie Smith, Lane Cove Theatre Company, LCTC, Riverview, O'Kelly Drama Theatre, local theatre, comedy theatre, Australian theatre, amateur theatre, Lance Cove
Lane Cove Theatre Company's promo fo Cosi (image courtesy of LCTC's Facebook page)


I'm embarrassed to say I haven't seen the acclaimed Aussie screen adaptation of Cosi, starring Barry Otto and Toni Collette but for the purposes of reviewing the stage version, I think it's an advantage. It's all too easy to make comparisons to a successful film but the truth is, Nowra originally wrote for the theatre, and I can't help thinking it's the kind of piece that would play best in this format.

Cosi is a play without bells and whistles. It's single-setting, requiring minimal props and special effects, with straight forward lighting and sound. Of course, the production elements are important but it is script and actor-focussed, and its charm lies in wit, humanity and abundance of character.

Cosi, Cosi by Louis Nowra, Louis Nowra, Cosi fan tutte, Debbie Smith, Lane Cove Theatre Company, LCTC, Riverview, O'Kelly Drama Theatre, local theatre, comedy theatre, Australian theatre, amateur theatre, Lance Cove
Full cast rehearsal image for Cosi (photo courtesy of LCTC's Facebook page)


For those unfamiliar with the storyline, the play, based loosely on a real-life producing experience of the playwright, is set in a mental institution in 1970s Australia. It focusses on graduate Lewis, who finds himself contracted to direct a theatre performance with an unruly cast of quirky and troubled patients, including a pyromaniac, a mute, a manic depressive and a junkie. Things get completely out of control for Lewis when the manic-depressive Roy takes over and forces the 'company' into an adaptation of Mozart's opera, Cosi fan tutte. Drama and hilarity ensue as Lewis somehow manages to take back the reigns, while giving each member of the cast a much-needed sense of empowerment, in their otherwise powerless lives.

Cosi, Cosi by Louis Nowra, Louis Nowra, Cosi fan tutte, Debbie Smith, Lane Cove Theatre Company, LCTC, Riverview, O'Kelly Drama Theatre, local theatre, comedy theatre, Australian theatre, amateur theatre, Lance Cove
A pyromaniac, overeater, junkie and an obsessive compulsive. What could go wrong? (photo c/o- Dawn Pugh)


Experienced Director, Debbie Smith, does justice to Nowra's brilliant dialogue and comic characterisations, drawing the audience in with humour from start to finish. The staging is simple and the focus, as intended, becomes the characters and the way each conveys the depth of their mental illness, whilst holding onto the will to triumph over it, for the sake of their outlandish endeavours.

Cosi, Cosi by Louis Nowra, Louis Nowra, Cosi fan tutte, Debbie Smith, Lane Cove Theatre Company, LCTC, Riverview, O'Kelly Drama Theatre, local theatre, comedy theatre, Australian theatre, amateur theatre, Lance Cove
Lewis somehow ends up doing the social worker's job (photo c/o- Dawn Pugh)


The cast is strong throughout and each performer has a profound sense of comic timing. Especially notable, were the powerhouse performances of James Belfrage as the domineering and melodramatic Roy, and Anna Kourouvale as the unstable but loveable Cherry. Her wild outfits, gumption and mad pursuit of the hen-pecked Lewis, devour every scene in which she features. The quietly dignified performance of John Edwards , as the show's protagonist Lewis, is also admirable, for his respectful handling of his cast's demons and ultimate loyalty to their cause.

With twenty years of supporting local theatre, Lane Cove Theatre Company is no stranger to taking on the greats and this season of Cosi (albeit brief) is no exception. I had a wonderful time being drawn into the crazy, chaotic world Nowra has created. I also found myself laughing throughout, while appreciating Nowra's 'food for thought' in terms of society's treatment of people diagnosed with mental illness. Has it really come that far since the 70s?

Cosi, Cosi by Louis Nowra, Louis Nowra, Cosi fan tutte, Debbie Smith, Lane Cove Theatre Company, LCTC, Riverview, O'Kelly Drama Theatre, local theatre, comedy theatre, Australian theatre, amateur theatre, Lance Cove
Lewis finds a kind of love with patient Julie (photo c/o- Dawn Pugh)

For an uplifting theatre experience, look no further than Cosi and for more information on bookings and how you can support this local theatre company and its quest for a permanent home, log onto LCTC's change.org page.

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*Brydie Wright was invited as a guest
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Why? Support a local theatre adaptation of a great Aussie play
When: Thursday 6 - Sunday 9 April
Phone: (02) 9428 5966
Where: The O'Kelly Drama Theatre, St Ignatius College, Riverview
Cost: Adult - $28, Concession - $23 and Groups (10 and over) - $21
Your Comment
Oe of my favourite plays, seen at the Nimrod and a few other theatres plus the film - well worth seeing!
by Kate Blake (score: 3|1352) 927 days ago
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