Act 1 Scene 4


Since the second fire incident, Doug has been admitted to a closed ward. This has left Roy furious that Lewis has ‘let everyone down’ [pg 35]. While Lewis defends himself, asserting that Doug failed to take his medications, Roy backlashes, declaring that Lewis is ‘like Hitler.’ Julie proclaims that they can no longer perform Così because no one from the mental institution will replace Doug’s role as Ferrando. With an acrimonious Roy, Lewis and Julie move away to chat. Julie reveals that participating in the play helps to focus her energy away from drugs. She recalls one time after she had ‘just shot up’ [pg 37] and working as a hairdresser, she had spent 12 hours cutting a woman’s hair, and the woman had stayed put because she was ‘too scared that I was going to snip everything except her hair.’

Annoyed to see Lewis and Julie together, Cherry comments that Doug blames Lewis for his institution and plans to kill Lewis when he is released. Understandably, Lewis is uncomfortable to hear about his death threat. A debate about a replacement play ensues within the group. Ruth is obsessed with the fact that she has already learnt all her lines and proves her knowledge to her fellow actors by performing various lines. Suddenly, in a moment of inspiration, Roy confirms that Lewis will replace Doug as Ferrando. Cherry feeds Lewis a sandwich even though he isn’t hungry.

Nick finally shows up, saying that the moratorium required lots of organization. He asks why Lewis hasn’t helped out, and Lewis states that he has been busy with the play. Uncomprehending, Nick says that he and Lucy ‘can’t believe’ [pg 41] that Lewis is directing ‘a work about love and infidelity’ and that only ‘mad people in this day’ would perform such a play. The group performs the scene where Fiordiligi and Dorabella discuss about how much they’ll miss their lovers. Nick stops them, instructing that Despina is urging the women to go ‘fuck any men you can’ but they want to ‘remain true to your lovers’ and that requires more motivation and emotion on stage for they’re ‘like statues.’ [pg 43] Shocked at the word ‘fuck’, Nick assumes a leadership stance within the group. Even Cherry, who asks how many steps she should take, immediately agrees to Nick’s proposed seven steps. Roy continues to badger Lewis about his poor director skills and should learn from Nick. After Lewis shares an idea to have the men in contemporary Albanian uniforms as a joke about communism, Henry, whose stutter and shyness diminishes, becomes furious upon hearing the fact that Nick is a communist supporter, for Nick is undoing all his father’s hard work in the war. Lewis explains that he supports Australia, but not American Imperialism, but he and Henry are on the same side. Henry then turns on Roy, who is shocked by Henry’s confrontation, and says that ‘Così condones the cccorruption of innocence’ [pg 48] but his ‘mother only llloved my fffather, no one else. He died in Kkkoreaa and she llloved nnnone else but me.’ Lewis, trying to calm him down, explains that he wasn’t trying to make fun of Henry by dressing his character as Albanian communist but it was just simply humourous since the play is a comedy. Henry starts to leave but Lewis blocks his way, proposing that they dress Ferrando and Guglielmo as Australian soldiers like his father. With agreement from Henry, the group continues, with Lewis firmly stating that Nick won’t be back to direct anymore.


Roy’s comparison of Lewis with Hitler is one that is harsh yet has an underlying tone of seriousness. He believes that Lewis is failing to take responsibility for Doug’s disintegration from the group, much alike Hitler who failed to accept that the Germans were ‘fighting on the Russian front and…los[t]’ [pg 35]. Roy’s outburst may be due to society’s lack of duty to help those in mental institutions. Lewis symbolises the patients’ chance to come ‘out of their shells’ [pg 23] since it is a rarity for an outsider to associate with the inmates. Yet when the project has seemingly collapsed because of Lewis, Roy refused to tolerate another outsider who treated the patients differently, ‘I thought you people were into ‘doing your own thing’, but when somebody else does it – Oh, no, shove him straight into C ward’ [pg 35].

Another of Nowra’s attacks on mental institutions is once again employed through Julie. In the 1960s, few if any recreational activities were available for patients. Julie’s confession that she enjoys participating in the play because ‘I’m doing something. Using up energy. Getting out of my ward’ [pg 36] emphasises how simple methods could easily help the patients. Instead, it was routine to admit ‘lunatics’ and incarcerate them in wards.

Nick appearance highlights the growing divide between his and Lewis’ friendship. Lewis’ abandonment of the moratorium for ‘a fuckin’ Mozart opera’ [pg 41] confounds Nick, who views love and infidelity as and ‘old fashioned concept’ [pg 43]. Nick represents a typical outsider’s view of the patients, ‘they’re definitely mad,’ and thus, illustrates his narrow view about people. Ironically, while Nick believes he is well educated due to his involvement with the moratorium, his oblivion to the relevance of love and fidelity proves that he is in a way, more ‘insane’ than the patients.

Henry’s abrupt change in personality embodies his loyalty to his father and Australia. It is shown through his ‘right wing’ [pg 47] ideals that fidelity is not only present in a couple’s relationship, but all types of relationships. This is contrasted with Nick’s lack of support for Lewis as he readily leaves the group when confronted with Henry’s anger.

Important Passages

‘I’m glad…I should have charged by the hour.’ [pg 36-37]

‘Learnt my lines…Even though I can do it, you hate me.’  [pg 38-39]

‘[pointing to Nick] You sssssupport the cccommunists?…Whether women cam remain true is a ttttragedy.’ [pg 46-49]

Important Quotes

‘I thought you people were into ‘doing your own thing’, but when somebody else does it – Oh, no, shove him straight into C ward.’ [pg 35]

‘It’s not the fact that you’ve let me down, Jerry, it’s more the fact that you’ve let everyone down. [He looks at the theatre] This theatre could have been ringing with the music of the spheres, instead of that, a dreadful silence has descended upon us.’

‘Oh, I get it; if the production had been a success it was all because of you, If it had flopped, it wasn’t your fault. How very, very directorial. Like Hitler, ‘Oh, my God, you mean to tell me we’re fighting on the Russian front and we’re losing? Why didn’t someone tell me we had three million troops in Russia?’ But I won’t go on, you’ll probably put me in a closed ward.’

‘I like it because I’m doing smething. Using up energy, Getting out of my ward.’ [pg 36]

‘It’s peculiar about drugs. Doug hates them because he likes to be naturally high all the time. Zac likes them because everything passes like he’s in a dream or limbo. I think I’m a naturally addictive personality. I like what they give you here, because not to be on drugs, whatever sort, is like being in limbo for me. Drugs make me feel sort of living. Completely opposite for Doug.’ [pg 36-37]

‘Junk? Like lying in a warm, cloudy river. Some people can’t imagine life without love, well I can’t imagine life without junk.’

‘Only mad people in this day and age would do a work about love and infidelity. They’re definitely mad.’ [pg 41]

‘Here’s this woman telling you to go out and fuck any men you can and you want to remain true to your lovers. It’s an old fashioned concept, granted.’ [pg 43]

‘Half  the joke? A bit of a kick in the face of a poor nation struggling to feed its people, isn’t it? Here we are, supporting the Viet Cong and you’re laughing at their supporters, the Albanians.’ [pg 46]

‘Whether love is an unswerving emotion and whether women can remain true.’ [pg 49]

‘Whether women can remain true is a ttttradegy.’

‘Hit me, it’s the only way I’m going to allow you to leave us. Go on, hit me.’


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