Study of Text Cosi
Cosi BY VLrnan92 The play “Cost” by Louis Nowra is about a young, inexperienced university student who is given the task of directing a play in a mental hospital.
The play uses many dramatic techniques including the setting of the play, humour, Language, the play within the play structure, and the fourth wall to help draw the audience into the world of the play.
The play also has distinct ideas such as the question of people’s attitudes towards the mentally ill and people’s attitudes towards love and fidelity to further draw the audience into the world of the play when mentally ill people were gnored and not accepted as ‘normal’ people. The setting is very important to the success it has in bringing forth its ideas and drawing the audience into the world of the play.
The play is set in the 1970’s during the time of the Vietnam war, many students of that time were involved in numerous causes such as, opposing conscription, rejecting traditional values of love, fidelity and marriage, and opposing many capitalist ideas. This time setting works in a couple ways, people in society at the time of the play were questioning certain values and attitudes.
Nowra is effectively challenging the audience to question the values and attitudes that they have towards the mentally ill and the importance of values such as love and fidelity.
The time setting helps getting the audience in the right mood to question these values and attitudes. Humour is a largely used technique in Cosi as it has an effect of humanising the characters and we laugh with the patients not at them, we stop seeing them in a stereotypical way, instead we see them as real people but people with real problems. Some of the types of humour used includes vulgar humour e. g.
“DOUG: poofter”, one- iners e. g. “JUSTIN: Where would the world be without social workers?
DOUG: In tip top condition”, and running Jokes e. g. “CHERRY: go burn a cat”.
Using humour really helps the audience connect with the characters and draws them into the world of the play showing that mentally ill people are certainly not that different from the supposedly ‘normal’ people. The play within a play reinforces the question of people’s attitudes towards love and fidelity in Nowra’s play and this further helps draw the audience into the world of the play by challenging them to reconsider their attitudes towards the idea.
The play within Cosi is called ‘Cosi Fan Tutte’ and it follows the formula for a typical traditional romantic comedy, love causes the characters to act strangely, their behaviour causes humorous crises and complications and then eventually the problems are resolved. Cost’s plot is also very similar to this as the characters behave strangely as most of them are mentally ill, humorous crises, and eventually resolved. They also include similar ideas of people’s opinions towards love and fidelity. ociety, Nowra gets the attention of the audience and draws them into the world of he play by approaching this particular idea as it is a current problem that people can appreciate.
At the beginning of the play we see that each of the mental patients have serious problems ranging from pyromania to obsessive behaviour and drug addiction but throughout the play the stereotype image of the mental patients are broken down and the audience make a connection with them and it seems that they are likeable human beings that have their own desires and fear.
Australians generally have a compassionate attitude towards the underdog so the audience’s ain connection to the patients is through Lewis. Lewis is nervous and hesitant when he first meets the patients, particularly Roy and Doug. This immediately introduces the stereotype of the mentally ill enabling the audience to connect with Lewis and start to understand his situation. This occurs in the first scene of the play.
His body language and short responses when talking to the patients reveal his fear and anxiety.
But as the play develops Lewis and the patients develop a mutual respect and Lewis treats them with understanding and not fear and prejudgment. The fourth wall is the imaginary “wall” at the front of the stage in a traditional three- walled box set in a proscenium theatre, through which the audience sees the action in the world of the play. At the end of the play Lewis steps through the fourth wall and addresses the audience directly, giving them information about what happened to the characters and himself.