Left – Jessica Marais and Benjamin Schostakowski. Cover – the cast of Cosi. Photos – Dylan Evans.
La Boite’s current production of Louis Nowra’s Cosi is subtle yet engaging and has begun its run with a spirited cast ready to grow and ripen as the season progresses.
Cosi is a much loved Australian classic, demonstrated by this production being La Boite’s third rendition of the play. Directed by David Berthold the production is funny and moving, using simple lighting and sound designs to place it somewhere between a farcical comedy and tense drama and with the occasional note of real-life absurdity thrown in.
Cosi is a play of brilliant comic timing, with witty one-liners creating unexpected plot twists and simple theatrical devices setting up unlikely scenarios. Berthold’s rendition certainly had audiences laughing throughout its entirety on opening night, charmed by a cast of characters each loveable in their own way.
Stand out performances were given by Trevor Stuart as the bumbling but unrelentingly demanding Roy and James Stewart as the quietly powerful Henry. Aaron Davison walked a thoughtful line to portray the sometimes subtle and sometimes blatantly outrageous pyromaniac Doug, giving the character a unique touch of unhinged intelligence and demonstrating a finely honed acting craft.
Ben Schostakowski’s acting debut as main character Lewis was the talk of the audience both pre and post show. Surly, impatient and overwhelmed, the young Lewis is both scared of missing out and of joining in, and Schostakowski captured this teetering lack of confidence brilliantly at the opening of the play. Brow furrowed and breath shallow, he gave a sense of deep discontent and frustration, both with himself and his situation. Schostakowski didn’t really leave this space during the play, though, and as such his character’s growth was limited. The passionate build of his affair with Julie did not quite ring true, which left the relationship flat and the overall stakes in the story lowered.
While the cast shone separately in their roles, there was a lack of cohesion within the ensemble which affected the flow of dialogue and the overall spirit of the piece. There were, on occasion, slight pauses before and after lines which demonstrated some performers’ lack of living in the moment of the play and weakened the building of relationships and tension.
As such, it was difficult to invest in the unique balancing act of relationships, both personal and societal, which Cosi studies. Whilst very funny, the script also expertly dissects and brings to light many of society’s assumptions about love, relationships and mental health which are still just as relevant today as they were when written in 1992, but were not hit particularly hard in this performance.
While elements of the show did not astound, there has been plenty of room left for the cast to grow and band together during the season and a solid technical platform on which for them to do it. This is one production which, as all living and breathing theatre should, will evolve with time and could be just as exciting to see on closing night as it was on opening.
La Boite présents
by Louis Nowra
Director David Berthold
Venue: La Boite’s Roundhouse Theatre
Dates: 8 February – 8 March 2014
Tickets: $25 – $68
Bookings: laboite.com.au | (07) 3007 8600