It looks like I am starting to get able to go and see theatre without breaking into hives. This is a good sign, people! I went with friends to The Little Theatre last night to watch The Mechanicals‘ (the only rep company in Cape Town) offering of Cosi. I didn’t read the programme very well, and I also forgot to bring one home so there might be horrible gaps in what I am about to write.

Cosi the play is the same story as Cosi the movie, where a young graduate gets his first job directing a ‘play’ as therapy for the inmates of a lunatic asylum. I adored the movie; a real feel good, silly, quirky Australian offering with both Rachel Griffiths and Toni Collette in it.

This version is also very cute and totally watchable, and funny and moving at times too. The action takes place in a dusty old theatre, and the story follows the rehearsal process of the totally unrealistic choice of the opera Cosi Van Tutte that one of the inmates is obsessed with. All the while we, the audience, find out more about the motley crew of inmates, and we watch the shift and growth of the young director Lewis, played rather sweetly by Andrew Laubscher. Scott Sparrow directs. I love watching Scott on stage and I missed him out front, but he did a bold, good job of directing this massive cast and all the traffic of this thing.

It is a huge cast, and therein lies its success and downfall. Guy de Lancey is brilliant. Deborah Vieyra, Emily Child, Tinarie van Wyk Loots and Kate Liquorish are fabulous. Everyone else varies from okay to hideous. The really good moments outshine the bad ones, but the bad ones make the production uneven and long. The thing that I love the most about the play though is how totally accessible it is. Yes, accents move in and out, styles clash and smash, pace is up and down, but this is the kind of play non-theatre goers would really love. The story is easy to follow, the characters are fun and quirky, and the dialogue moves mostly at a good pace. There are some really funny and delightfully rude moments too. So, on a Saturday night it should have been full. And there were about forty of us. Damn. I am coming out in hives again. This theatre business sucks!