WHAT happens when an eclectic cast of asylum patients are brought together to perform Mozart’s Italian opera Cosi fan tutte, despite the fact none can sing nor even speak Italian?
The answer is Cosi, the popular Australian play by Louis Nowra showing at Roleystone Hall this August.
Presented by Roleystone Theatre, it follows fresh-faced university graduate Lewis, who is contracted to put on a play at the local asylum with some of its patients.
Nowra is one of Australia’s leading playwrights, responsible for Radiance, The Golden Age, Miss Bosnia and Summer of the Aliens.
He adapted Cosi into the 1996 film with Toni Collette, Rachel Griffiths, David Wenham, Ben Mendelsohn and Jacki Weaver, winning the Australian Film Institute Award for best adapted screenplay that year.
Stephen Carr is directing the production, after playing Lewis when Roleystone Theatre staged Cosi 20 years ago.
“The play is a quintessential slice of Australian history,” he said. “It’s set during the time of the Vietnam War in a Melbourne psychiatric institution.
“A manic depressive, junkie, mute, overeater, doped-up musician, obsessive compulsive and pyromaniac all decide they can put on an opera.
“Cosi explores themes of love, fidelity, friendship and the thin line between sanity and insanity.
“Nowra uses humour, irony and cynicism to blur the boundaries and subvert the distinctions between madness and sanity.
“The play is a dark comedy as well as being a social commentary that dissects conventional perspectives, while personalising the patients, making them more than just a diagnosis.”
Involved in theatre for 22 years, Stephen has worked at a plethora of theatres across the metropolitan area including the Crown, State and Regal Theatres and is currently production coordinator at Curtin University’s Hayman Theatre.
He won the Finley Award for best director and best musical for his production of Sweeney Todd at Roleystone Theatre in 2009 and took out runner-up best musical for Rock of Ages at Koorliny Arts Centre in 2018.
“Cosi appealed because I just love the world that Louis Nowra has written,” Stephen said.
“It features big, bold characters that are interesting to bring to life.”
Cosi plays at 7.30pm August 20, 21, 27 and 28; 5pm August 22 and 2pm August 28. Tickets are $20, $15 concession – book at www.trybooking.com/BTBHE
Roleystone Hall is at 44 Jarrah Road (corner of Wygonda Road), Roleystone.