Nowra’s play is set in a ‘burnt out theatre’. Discuss the importance of setting and imagery in conveying Nowra’s ideas in Cosi. The burnt out theatre in Nowra’s play ‘Cosi’ represents the life inside an asylum, a life that the characters know all too well. Life inside an asylum is portrayed as a dark, cold and isolated place, where the outside world is not often talked about and for others almost doesn’t exist. Most of the characters cannot handle reality but for Nowra is is about exposing the hard times and the difficult lives of the patients.
Lewis is fresh out of university and took on a job as a play director at the asylum, but is a bit unsettled when he first inspects the theatre that they will be using, as it is burnt out, has a gapping hole in the roof, and the fuse box is temperamental. The neglected, burnt out theatre represents the attitudes that society has toward mental health, and the lives that the patients live everyday. Society neglects the mentally ill and is almost oblivious to how they are treated in asylums as it is not something that is commonly talked about.
Justin says; ‘a madman is someone who arrives at a fancy dressed party in the Emperor’s new clothes’. (Pg7) this represents that no matter where they are or where they go people considered ‘mad’ will always be out of the ordinary and will never truly fit in with the rest of society. However the faulty lights in the theatre represent young Lewis’ lack of confidence and uncertainty within the situation he has put himself into, ‘What is someone forgets to take their medicine? ‘(Lewis Pg5) is a classic example of how Lewis has little experience and wouldn’t know how to deal with a serious situation if it was to arise.
Characters cannot handle life outside the asylum because reality is just to much for them to handle. Roy creates a fantasy to escape his depressing childhood memories and his time spent in the asylum; ‘I had a dream Jerry’ (Pg 63). Julie cannot handle reality and so she uses drugs as an escape and coping mechanism she says; ‘It’s peculiar about drugs. Doug hates them because he likes to be naturally high all the time. Zac likes them because everything passes like he’s in a dream or limbo. I think I’m a naturally addictive personality.
I like what they give you here, because not to be on drugs, whatever sort, is like being in limbo for me. Drugs make me feel sort of living. Completely opposite for Doug. ’ (Pg36-37) Non of the patients would be in the institution if they could cope with the outside world. The asylum introduces a new world to Lewis, one that is far from his own life,‘Asylums are the most inefficient places on this earth. ’(pg 58) One that will challenge him to be more outspoken, more attentive and more of a leader.
This is shown when Roy tries to do Lewis’ job for him and complains about Lewis’ directions. Couldn’t direct a poofter. ‘ (Pg10) Lewis gets emotionally attached to the patients and more or less throws his relationship and education out the window to help fulfill their dream, ‘Cosi Fan Tutte’. ‘It’s not the fact that you’ve let me down, Jerry, it’s more the fact that you’ve let everyone down. [He looks at the theatre] This theatre could have been ringing with the music of the spheres, instead of that, a dreadful silence has descended upon us. ’- Roy. Lewis helps them come out of their shells and see their true self worth.
Nowra’s setting of the burnt out theatre has a big role in the lives of the patients, it shows the conditions that the patients lived in before Lewis discovered them and before Cosi helped them come alive once again. Reality may not have been a factor in the lives but fantasy is what helped them cope it kept them half sane and aloud them to live and join in Roy’s dream and a beautiful, rich spoiled life outside of the miserable asylum. *Was rushed and done at last minute so is easy to expand on and is great for notes*