Its not everyday we are treated to a performance like Cosi, the play which, on Monday evening, 14th January, captivated the audience and left us speechless.
With an extremely minimalist set and music ranging from Mozart to Velvet Underground, thirteen Australian students from Caulfield Grammar School in Melbourne demonstrated their incredible talent by performing this extremely funny, yet at times, poignant play, at St. Julians, having already performed it at St. Dominic's earlier that day.
Cosi is set in the 1970s, during the Vietnam War. It is about a young, first-time director, Lewis, who is asked to direct a play for the inmates of an asylum, with the intention of helping them in a therapeutic programme and bringing them out of their shells. Much to Lewis dismay, Roy, one of the cast, is determined to perform Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte in spite of the fact that none of the volunteer actors can speak Italian or sing and the venue is a fire-gutted theatre, previously burnt down by Doug, the pyromaniac member of the cast.
Cosi is an autobiographical play, written by Louis Nowra, in which the character, Lewis, represents the author and his own experiences. It includes various elements common to Nowra plays, such as the external threat, in this case the Vietnam War, the play-within-a-play and the juxtaposition of sanity and insanity. The play forces the audience to question what is normal by showing that the troubled vision of the inmates is often saner than the madness of the war outside the asylum.
In the performance which we were privileged to watch, all the actors portrayed their own character beautifully and kept the qualities of that character going throughout every second of the two-hour performance. Every movement was dynamic and significant, every word was projected with clear diction and every gesture was supported by an appropriate facial expression. Most impressive for us drama students at St. Julian's was the impeccable timing of all the lines and the entrances and exits of the actors. There was also an amazing contrast between calm, emotional moments when the inmates spoke about why they were in the asylum, and sudden bursts of confusion when, for example, Doug sets the theatre on fire again.
When we arrived for the performance, it is fair to say that none of us knew what to expect, since this group of Australian students had literally landed on our doorstep the day before. However, we left the theatre enthralled, exhausted from laughing and, for the thespians of St. Julians, inspired to live up to the example set for us.
Those of us who hosted the Caulfield students enjoyed the time they spent with us and were only sorry that they had to leave so soon.
Georgia Munnion, 10S