BWW Reviews: COSI - Women, Like That
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by Duncan Pflaster
The setting of Louis Nowra’s play Così is an Australian insane asylum in 1971. Lewis (Adam Zivkovic), a fresh-faced, just out of college theatre director, gets a job working with the assorted lunatics of the place. Lewis is hoping to get some Brecht or other agitprop theatre going, but Roy (Matthew Foster), the inmate whose impetus began the theatre program in the first place, has his heart set on Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte. Roy has assembled a motley crew of other inmates who have varying degrees of enthusiasm for the project: Zac (Duke Anderson), a musician whose prescription never seems quite right; Julie (Kathleen Foster), a heroin addict; Cherry (Annie Worden), a woman who is inappropriate with her crush on Lewis, her switchblade, and her passing out of sandwiches; Ruth (Laura Iris Hill), a woman with OCD and a difficulty telling fantasy from reality (a serious liability when rehearsing a play); Henry (Stuart Williams), who hardly speaks; and Doug (Clint Zugel), a mischievous pyromaniac.
Despite the fact that none of the cast of inmates can sing or speak Italian, the chosen play continues, with mishap after mishap (and a burgeoning love affair between Julie and Lewis) complicating rehearsals. There is also Lewis’ roommate Nick (Zach Bubalo), and Lewis’ girlfriend Lucy (Olivia Etzine), who represent the outside political forces of 1971 Australia, with their concerns about the Vietnam War and free love contrasting with the outmoded ideals of Mozart and DaPonte’s opera. It’s an amusing and highly entertaining piece (it was also made into an underappreciated film in 1996); kudos to Australian Made Entertainment, for bringing the New York premiere of this charming play as their inaugural production.
The entire cast is wonderful. The standouts are Zugel, Hill, and Worden who commit fully and believably to the larger-than-life insanity of their characters. Zivkovic, in the lead, isn’t given much to do by the script except play the charismatic straight man to the crazy around him, but he pulls it off well, with his expressive face leaving no doubt as to his character’s feelings.
Christopher Thompson’s scenic design is great and appropriately dingy. Emily Rose Parman’s costumes take wonderful advantage of the bright psychedelics of 1970s clothing styles. Jesse Michael Mothershed directs clearly and precisely.
Runs through September 23rd at Urban Stages- 259 West 30th Street
Tickets are $18 Thursday-Sunday, and $10 on Wednesdays
Available online at www.SmartTix.com or by calling 212-868-4444.
Tickets may also be purchased in-person at the Urban Stages box office ½ hour prior to the performance.