Production photography by Dawn Pugh.
There are just so many comic and dramatic possibilities that come to mind with this particular Louis Nowra scenario. Nowra makes some good choices and the result is one of his most flamboyant and entertaining plays.
A young director, Lewis, desperately in need of work, takes on the job of putting on a production at a psych hospital, to be performed by patients. The hospital’s social worker has come up with the idea of the project, believing that it will be good for his ‘charges’. We follow Lewis’ rocky journey from his first meetings with his ‘actors’ all the way through to his reflections after the performance has finally taken place.
Lane Cove Theatre Company recently completed a very satisfying revival, which sadly only had a very short season, directed by the very experienced Debbie Smith.
The enjoyment of this play principally lies in the richness of its characters and their stories, giving the cast plenty to work with. Smith’s direction allowed the actors to give big, vibrant performances.
John Edwards played the Director, Lewis, whose patience and vision are endlessly tried by his ‘untrained’ acting troupe.
Sars de Vries played Lewis’ room-mate and girlfriend who thinks that Lewis should be more interested in politics and the Vietnam War, and ends up having an affair with Lewis friend Nick, played by Nick Dolahenty, who is on the pulse of the Vietnam protests.
James Belfrage was well cast as thespian manic depressive Roy. I have seen James’ work over the years, and he always gives a very reliable and generous performance. James was also helped by the playwright giving Roy some of his best lines including a few barbs at directors including : ‘He couldn’t direct traffic down a one way street’ and ‘Look on the bright side. For killing an actor, he’d get life. For killing a director he’d get eternal gratitude.”
Susan Mozell caught the eye from the first with a strong performance as the very nervy obsessive compulsive Ruth. Hers was a very physical performance, embodying her character’s anxiety.
Anna Kourouvale gave a high energy performance as the highly strung, temperamental Cherry who spends much of the action carrying a flick knife around and being abusive to Doug.
Kristin Livie was suitably sensual and provocative as druggie Julie who Lewis has a brief fling with.
Jack N. Berry’s performance as the out of control pyromaniac Doug, always out to create chaos, was suitably anarchic and comic.
Bob Deacon was also suitably zany as the spaced out pianist Zac whose favourite trick was to crash on top of his piano. Deacon also had a small role as hospital social worker, Justin.
Emmanuel Said gave a well judged comic performance as the very withdrawn Henry and particularly enjoyed his timid, penguin like walks/struts across the stage.
Lane Cove Theatre Company’s revival of Louis Nowra’s COSI played the O’Kelly Drama Theatre, St Ignatius College, Riverview between the 6th and the 9th April.
Just one final note. This fine theatre company, is now in its twentieth year, is more than deserving of having its own home venue rather than having to hire performances. Lane Cove Theatre Company are currently lobbying Lane Cove Council in this regard, and have an online petition going. All lovers of quality, community based theatre are actively encouraged to sign. Please support their call for a permanent performance space to be built as part of the proposed Rosenthal Ave development by visiting and signing the online petition. Your support is greatly appreciated.