Act 1 Scene 2

Plot

The next day, the group is auditioned on their singing skills for Così Fan Tutte.  They debate on which song they should use with such little talent in the voice department. Roy takes charge, assigning roles, ‘Julie as Fiordiligi, Dorabella is Ruth. Doug, you’ll be Ferrando and I’ll be Gugliemo’ [pg 14]. As a result of Roy taking charge of the play, a roused Lewis argues that no one can sing and no one can speak Italian, ‘an incredible burden, even for the most brilliant talent’ [pg 15]. Although opposed, Roy is adamant on performing Così Fan Tutte. The dispute continues until Lewis calls for lunch.

During break, Lewis listens to the radio where an interview featuring Nick is being broadcast. Nick states that there will be around twenty thousand protestors at a Melbourne moratorium, and that he would be happy to see the protest be a repeat of Paris 1968, ‘young Australians of my age, are getting fed up with our society. We want changes and we want them now!’ [pg 17]. Shaking his head, Lewis turns down the volume on the radio, only to be lead into a conversation with Doug, who supports the idea of ‘throwing rocks at cops, overturning cars, smashing barricades, [and] burning houses’ – widespread actions during the Paris protests. Doug then asks if Lewis believes in free love since he and Lucy aren’t married and also live in a house with Nick. An offended Lewis states that he doesn’t share Lucy with Nick. Doug then pries on Lucy’s sex life; Lewis reluctantly reveals that Lucy was not a virgin when they first had sex. Cherry interrupts their conversation asking for the toilets. Doug insults Cherry by stating that he hopes Cherry falls in the toilet but unfortunately she’s ‘too fat’ [pg 19]. Cherry spits back that he should ‘go burn a cat.’ Lewis wonders why Doug is repeatedly told to burn things. Doug explains that he is pyromaniac, an impulse control disorder where one feels a sense of pleasure from lighting fires. He then reveals that he burnt his mother’s five cats by locking them in a cage, ‘doused them with petrol and put a match to them’ only to then release them, thrilled to see them running around on fire. Yet the reason why he was sent to the mental institutions was because one of the cats ran into his mother’s home and burnt the entire house down.

Cherry returns and Doug leaves for the toilet. Cherry ‘stuffs a sandwich into [Lewis’] mouth’, in an attempt to ‘get some flesh on [his] bones.’ Zac, affected by the lithium, hears an omnipresent ringing and crashes his face down on the piano, screaming that he will ‘get The Electric Prunes album!’ [pg 21]. Julie comes up and asks Lewis for his radio so she can listen to music. After she leaves with the radio, Cherry snickers that Julie is a ‘typical junkie, needs stimulus all the time or else her thoughts turn to you-now-what’, referring to illicit drugs [pg 21]. Doug runs back to the group screaming that someone lit a fire in the toilet. Everyone instantly rushes to get water and buckets, while Cherry repeatedly yells that she will kill Doug for lighting the fire.

Analysis

The politics of 1960s and 70s was one where dramatic changes had been made. Due to Australia’s increased involvement with the Vietnam War, a conscription policy was introduced whereby 20 year old men would mandatorily serve the army for two years in Vietnam. Significant public opposition ensued, leading to the organisation of moratoriums across the country. During this time politics was heavily embedded in young people. This is shown through Nick, who is around the age of conscription. The interviewer’s discussion with Nick about a repeat of Paris 1968, where over 20,000 student protestors rebelled and rioted, is met with much enthusiasm on Nick’s behalf. His lack of connection to the theme of love in Così is highlighted through his engrossment with the war.

The question where ‘truth’ and ‘fiction’ intersect is proposed when Doug asks Lewis about Lucy’s fidelity. When Doug assumes that Lewis, Lucy and Nick are involved with free love, Lewis refuses the idea that Lucy may also be with Nick. Lewis is depicted to be unclear of what ‘free love’ means, for it is ‘a hard concept to define’ [pg 18], which reflects on him being unclear of where the line should stand between the three friends. His aloofness towards the matter also suggests that Lewis is in denial about Lucy and Nick’s relationship.

Nowra also comments on the effects of mental institutions upon its patients. While portrayed humourlessly, Zac’s deluded state is a harsh reflection on medical treatment of ‘insane’ patients. Coincidentally, his desire to the The Electric Prunes links with his state of mind since the band was a psychedelic group, where one explores the unknown of their minds through hallucinations.

Important Passages

‘How many people do you think there will be at the moratorium Nick?…And I like my solitude.’ [pg 17-19]

‘No no, quite recently…If it wasn’t for that damn cat, I wouldn’t be here.’ [pg 19-20]

‘Someone told me you had a transistor…I’m going to kill you for this!’ [pg 21-22]

Important Quotes

‘Wild thing, you make my heart sing / Wild thing you make everything groovy…’ [pg 13]

‘It’s the only only song I know all the way through. I’m not going to sing a song that is not word perfect. You don’t want me to make a fool of myself, do you?’ 

‘Lewis gives a tiny nod of the head, unable to believe he has found himself caught up with this.’

‘an incredible burden, even for the most brilliant talent.’ [pg 15]

‘I am for the stars, Jerry, is that such a bad thing’ 

‘you’re like the best directors’ a glutton for work.’ [pg 16]

‘Why can’t I ever say no? Just leave. They’re mad. It’s madness…[but he knows he won’t leave].’ 

‘It means that these people, even the middle class will be readicalised by seeing how many of us are against them. They’ll know that to be against the Vietnam war is also to be against the old fossilized government we now have. They’ll want the war to end, they’ll want changes in our society, they’ll want to overthrow the establishment.’ [pg 17]

‘Free love is a hard concept to define.’ [pg 18]

‘Women like to pretend they don’t play around but they’re just more eretive about it. They don’t brag about it like men.’ 

‘…you can always find loneliness in a marriage, but never solitude.’ [pg 19]

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