IN THE FACE OF BETRAYAL, LEWIS DISCOVERS LOYALTY
The play 'Cosi’, written by Louis Nowra, is set in 1971 amidst the chaos of the Vietnam War. Australia’s involvement in the war was a topic of great controversy, and being the first televised war, reality was brought crashing into the lounge rooms of Australians. The horrific images displayed in people’s homes sparked anger from those involved in the fight against communism and conscription. The loyalty of Australians was heavily tested during these times, with society divided in their support of anti-communism. Nowra exposes the audience to the harsh treatment of those living in mental institutions during these times; a result of society’s’ predisposition to neglect those labelled ‘insane’ in the 70’s. Through the play he encourages the audience to ignore these perceptions and recognise the mentally ill as equals instead of undermining them. Furthermore, Nowra highlights society’s conflicting attitudes towards love and fidelity. When compared to the barbarism of the war, faithfulness was often viewed as irrelevant. However contending this idea, Nowra expresses the need for loyalty and taking care of one another, even when confronted with seemingly more ‘important’ matters. Through the journey of the protagonist of the play, Lewis, the audience learns that even in the face of deep betrayal, loyalty can be found. Although Lewis initially explains that he is directing the play due to his lack of money, it is evident that Cosi Fan Tutte becomes more than just a quick way to earn cash. In the beginning of Cosi, Lewis expresses his reason for directing the play by stating “I need the money, Lucy.” He is confronted and uncomfortable when first meeting the patients under such foreign circumstances, overwhelmed by the idea of having to deal with these “mad” people. Nowra embodies society’s negative attitude towards those with mental illnesses, where anyone classed as ‘insane’ were removed from society and thrust into...
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