The play Cosi by Louis Nowra explores the key themes of personal growth, love and fidelity and the treatment towards the mentally ill. Through a close examination of the text, a greater understanding can be developed of how composers use language forms and features to portray significant ideas and their understanding about human kind.
An Individual may have experiences that result in maturation and changes to one another. In the play Cosi by Louis Nowra, Nowra follows main protagonist Lewis as he directs the opera featuring the lives and experiences within the mental asylum ultimately changing the lives of others and himself in the process. Interactions by Lewis whilst directing Cosi Fan Tutte resulted in his changed perception and personal growth, which is a significant idea in the play. Lewis who initially lacks confidence is driven by the financial need to undertake work at the asylum. Expression through his dialogue “ I need the money Lucy” His initial timidity is shown through the tone and stage direction.
As the plot progress, Lewis gains confidence as a result of his interactions and experiences shared with the mentally ill, Lucy states“ working with these people have changed you”. This significant change is highlighted through the use of black humor as he tells Doug “ Go burn a cat”. By closely examining his newfound confidence and maturity as an individual, experiences have changed Lewis’s perceptions of the mentally ill which gives the reader a greater understanding of personal growth.
The line between ‘sanity’ and ‘insanity’ is explored through the juxtaposition of the patients and society and can vary depending on the dialogue and behavior .The set of the play is a “neglected burnt out theatre” symbolizing the negate and attitudes of society towards the mentally ill. Nick’s dialogue at the beginning of the play “mad actors are bad enough . . . but madmen” similarly emphasizes this and conveys the detrimental views of the mainstream society in the 1970’s. The stage directions state, “a heavy door opens, a chink of day light enters” symbolizing the physical boundaries that Lewis is crossing by bringing the outside world in the sheltered and rarely unseen environment of the mentally ill.
Nowra refuses to define madness objectively as he does not formally define the psychological or psychiatric conditions of any of the patients in an attempt to challenge the social signs surrounding illness, shown when Lewis mistakes Roy as the social worker and Justin as a patient. The insanity of the outside world is explicitly evident in the Vietnamese war. The government is continuing in a war that it is losing, something that is deemed madness by the likes of Nick and Lucy and as such they organize the moratorium. However the methods that would be employed by Nick are mad themselves, the use of violence as nick reveals “barricades and bombs, why not?” Through a close examination of the text, individuals are shown to gain understanding on the important ideas such as the treatment towards the mentally ill.
Through a close examination of the play Cosi, individuals are shown to gain great insight towards attitudes of the mentally ill, personal growth and change through people’s perceptions and experiences, which are significant ideas throughout the text.