Louis Nowra is considered one of Australia’s foremost playwrights, with a career that has spanned more than 40 years and produced dozens of plays.
Among his best-known works (at least in Australia) is “Cosi,” which is opening this week at the Players Centre for the Performing Arts in Sarasota. (That’s the theater that was until recently called Players Theatre, and more commonly referred to as Sarasota Players.)
“Cosi” concerns a young theater director who gets his first professional job, directing “Cosi Fan Tutte.” He’s excited to have the chance, but then he discovers that all his actors are patients in a mental hospital. They don’t speak Italian and they can’t sing.
Apparently, Nowra knows the subject matter, as “Cosi” has been described as “semi-autobiographical.”
The Players Centre production promises its share of high jinks, but “Cosi” isn’t all silliness. It touches on issues relating to sanity and madness, and it’s set in 1971 so it looks at that era’s attitudes toward the Vietnam War and mental illness.
It’s the Player’s first mainstage production. since it officially changed its name. The company has announced plans to move to a new, much larger facility in Lakewood Ranch in the next few years.