"Cosi", by Louis Nowra, is a play which comprises of many distinct characters, each with their own unique backgrounds and outlooks on life. Throughout Cosi, the different ways in which the patients escape the depressing reality of the asylum and their conditions become evident. Roy creates a false memory of a fantastic childhood and obsesses over Cosi Fan Tutte and “the music of the spheres” so as to suppress the tragic knowledge of his experiences as a child and his life in the asylum. In a similar way, Ruth obsesses over the notions of truth, reality and illusion, constantly seeks reassurance and requires detailed routines to feel comfortable. Julie uses drugs in order to feel “living” and claims that the opera allows her to get out of her ward and think about something other than her need for drugs. It is also clear that Lewis becomes a temporary means of escaping the miserable asylum for Julie, since Lewis and Julie both show signs of attraction towards each other. Similarly, Cherry takes refuge in an imagined relationship with Lewis that is strangely nourished by food, and although her love is unrequited, she draws satisfaction from any encounter with Lewis. Whether it is their personal conditions or their shared experience of life in the asylum, each patient escapes the negative aspects of their lives in unique ways.
Roy finds optimism in a make-believe childhood encompassing high culture, elegance, music, joy and a lovely mother while the reality as revealed by Cherry is that “he’s an orphan” who “spent most of his early life in orphanages and being farmed to foster parents” (p. 76). Roy refers to this falsehood in an attempt to forget and deny the truth about his childhood and also attempts to block out the reality of the asylum, hoping that Cosi Fan Tutte would be “like [his] childhood” (p. 61), “a world as far removed from [the] depressing asylum as possible” (p. 63). Throughout the play, Roy also rejects the reality of the effects of his...
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