“It's like I've disappeared. I walk down the road and throw no shadow.”
“That's what getting older does for you.”
Rose wants an exit plan that is bold and invigorating, but her three warring daughters have other ideas. We all have to die, but what makes a good death? Everyone seems to have an opinion…
Cosy is a provocative, brutally honest but at times laugh-out-loud work that asks big questions about how – and when – our lives draw to a close. The production team and the all female Welsh cast of six includes disabled and non-disabled artists, creatives and producers.
The world premiere of Cosy was supported by Unlimited which aims to embed work by disabled artists in the UK cultural sector, and shift perceptions of disabled people.
"When the lights go up at the end of Kaite O Reilly’s Cosy…you might find that you have to pick yourself up off the floor and put an ice pack on your face for the clobber it gives you. This play …provokes and can reduce you to tears…And it does so, as O’Reilly does so well, through language…beautiful and sensitive… It will make your heart pump and your belly shake. A thought-provoking night that is not to be missed.’ (Art Scene in Wales 2016 *****)
"…simultaneously the most moving and entertaining script I’ve heard on a Welsh stage in years… O’Reilly’s writing is…breathlessly beautiful… (New Welsh Review, 2016)
"…a dark dark comedy, a Chekhovian family saga on a mainly bare stage… brilliant and disconcerting comic..." (The Arts Desk **** 2016)
"Good things happen when Kaite O’Reilly comes to Cardiff. Cosy is a tender meditation on the value of life... Kaite O’Reilly proves yet again why she is amongst Britain’s best playwrights. And someone welcome back to Cardiff any time." (Western Mail/ Walesonline, 2016)
Kaite O’Reilly in association with Wales Millennium Centre and The Llanarth Group, supported by Unlimited. Cosy premiered at Wales Millennium Centre on 8th March 2016.
The script is included in Kaite's selected 'Atypical Plays for Atypical Actors' , published by Oberon https://www.oberonbooks.com/atypical-plays.html
Designer/Dylunydd: Simon Banham
Lighting Designer/Dylunydd Golau: Ace McCarron
Costume Designer/Dylunydd Gwisgoedd: Holly McCarthy
Costume Assistant/Cynorthwy-ydd gwisgoedd: Angharad Spencer
Musical Arrangements and Performance: / Trefniadau a Pher ormiad Cerddorol: Llinos Daniel
Associate Producer/Cynhyrchydd Cysylltiol: Sandra Bendalow
Assistant Producer/Cynhyrchydd Cynorthwyol: Tom Wentworth
Press Officer/Swyddog y Wasg:Catrin Rogers
Rose: Sharon Morgan
ED: Ri Richards
Camille: Ruth Lloyd
Gloria: Llinos Daniel
Isabella: Bethan Rose Young
Maureen: Sara Beer
REVIEWS IN FULL
Arts Scene in Wales.
March 11, 2016
When the lights go up at the end of Kaite O Reilly’s Cosy in the WMC’s Weston Studio, you might find that you have to pick yourself up off the floor and put an ice pack on your face for the clobber it gives you. This play fights you and your natural urge to ignore the inevitable; it provokes and can reduce you to tears like any great fighter. And it does so, as O’Reilly does so well, through language.
In this new commission O’Reilly magnifies an issue we all want to stave off as long as possible: death in all its multifaceted glory – the only unbroken promise life gives. The story follows Rose, her friend Maureen, her three daughters and granddaughter, all of who have their own problems and relationship with the grim reaper.
Rose wants to end her life with dignity and self-possession. She loves life as it is and does not want to give way to infirmity. So she seeks the help of her daughters, all of who object to her shuffling off so early, for different reasons, despite knowing that she is unwell, and that malady could ‘take hold’ of her at anytime.
Through the various relationships presented we are provided with a domestic debate about life and it’s sanctity – either in the sense of preserving the memory of life, or holding on to it as long as possible even when it’s fading away. This play brings up themes of familial love, agency over ones own body, end of life care, and perspective grief. These subjects are all interwoven into a beautiful narrative and straddle a line between the everyday questions of life and the uncertainties of death.
All the performers do well in this production with Sharon Morgan as Rose and Sara Beer as Maureen really shining through. Morgan brings a quiet serenity and sanity to her situation that beautifully sets the pace of the whole evening. Beer is bloody hilarious – literally. She provides a wit so cutting, that you are never allowed to wallow in the apparent
O’Reilly’s heart-stopping words with grace and dignity that blows the final punch and knocked me, at least, for six.
This production stirs and questions our ideals of life and death in a beautiful and sensitive manner. It will make your heart pump and your belly shake. A thought-provoking night that is not to be missed.
The Arts Desk ****
by Gary Raymond
Thursday, 10 March 2016
Kaite O’Reilly’s new play is a dark dark comedy, a Chekhovian family saga on a Beckettian stylised stage that handles its subjects of aging, death and family with a rich and grounded intellectualism anyone familiar with O’Reilly’s work would come to expect. The production itself trips lightly the thin line that separates reality from a discomforting dreamscape, the waiting room – everyone is waiting, for death, for life, for family members to arrive. It as an ominous comedy.
Sharon Morgan gives a regal performance as matriarch, Rose; Ri Richards, Ruth Lloyd and Llinos Daniel are excellent as the sisters; Bethan Rose Young has perhaps the most difficult task as the precocious 16-year-old who seems to learn nothing in school other than enlightenment philosophy; but it is Sara Beer who steals the show as Maureen, a brilliant and disconcerting comic turn that from the off envelopes the play in a sense of the otherworldly.
It is this otherworldliness that makes Cosy such a successful – and ultimately significant – play. What might have been a kitchen-sink drama is elevated, and the themes of humanness are lifted beyond the everyday.
We are meant to believe that this is a family reunion – and the interaction of aged mother, three grown-up daughters, and teenage granddaughter (not to mention Beer’s Maureen, a carer-of-sorts) is written with a snappy wit – but it is just as easily a haunting, a memory, a supposed reunion. There is something of limbo about the whole set-up. To this extent Cosy is an extremely complex piece of work that moves this simple family into the realm of Sartre’s coffee shop philosophers in his Road to Freedom novels – at one point the room hangs on the words “Iron in the Soul” as the lights go down, the alternative English title to Sartre’s Troubled Sleep, which might have been an alternative title for this play.
And on Phillip Zarrilli’s evocative staging of ten crimson wing-backed chairs, the themes are discussed: the sanctity of life, the mechanics as well as the morality of suicide, the aging process, femininity, feminism – (and it is not so much that men have no part to play on this stage, but rather this is a world without them, their absence is only felt on second thought – their only function is to pass on life, and to pass on death, from way back in the wings). This all feels so real, feels like a play in the tradition of Checkhov’s drawing rooms, of Ibsen’s frustrated females, but actually this is where Tiresias haunts the stage carrying her own blood in a bucket, where teenagers quote Rousseau and debate existentialism in sophisticated ways, where the homestead does not bring comfort, but rather is trans-inducing. The ten crimson chairs are manoeuvred about the stage, but always they seem to end up in regiment as if awaiting their Supreme Court judges to arrive to deny Rose control of her own body. Family reunion, one way or the other, always descends into judgement.
And it is in this sphere where the only failing of the play exists, in that the drama of the piece does not quite see itself out. The philosophising wins, and the story crumbles – although that too, of course, is just life.
New Welsh Review (issue 110, Winter 2016)
'Objectum sexuality, it’s called.’ Reminiscence of a grown woman in love with her car – a Fiesta, was it? – elicits dirty cackles from her sisters. Not the tone I had expected from ‘Cosy’, but a well-judged (and hilarious) balance to the production’s weightier matters.
This new play by Kaite O’Reilly explores the ageing process through three generations of women. Poor mental health and physical debilitation sear the core characters, but O’Reilly juggles dark themes with a light touch for the most part. Witty one-liners pierce even the more serious conversations, while light-hearted chatter is also dotted throughout the show. ‘Cosy’ is simultaneously the most moving and entertaining script I’ve heard on a Welsh stage in years.
The all-female cast members are each phenomenally in tune with their characters. Camille – or Camomile, a name discarded in her youth – (played by Ruth Lloyd) is a fiercely proud, materialistic redhead who adores and teases her daughter Isabella in equal measure. The teenager, conceived using a sperm donor, has apparently encyclopaedic intelligence (superior genes from the paternal side, according to Isabella’s aunts).
Relations between Camille and her sisters, Ed and Gloria, are frayed to say the least. Gloria is the wild child, whose crush on her car had been a final straw for Camille. The pair had been long estranged and their thorny reunion plays out to the audience’s amusement when mysterious circumstances bring the family back to the house that is now kept by the eldest sister and their mother.
This is a melancholy home; both inhabitants are weary of living. Even the vivacious Camille deflates soon after arrival and confides in her mother, Rose (Sharon Morgan), that she no longer throws a shadow when walking along a street. With age comes invisibility, she says. Often, however, Camille’s maturity seems outmatched by her daughter. She mocks Isabella’s aversion to make-up and pushes her to give blusher a go, before adding sourly that on women of her age it is merely ‘brick dust in cracks’.
O’Reilly’s writing is, at times, breathlessly beautiful. Without warning, bickering is wrenched into raw, soul-searching outbursts. Rose is desperately suicidal. She has lost any will to grind on with existence over the years since her husband’s premature death. She doesn’t want to deteriorate into a breathing sudoku, she cries, and insists on tattooing ‘do not resuscitate’ across her chest. While her daughters sway between feeling aghast and disinterested, Isabella jovially helps her grandmother leaf through handbooks on how to die.
Given this plotline, one might likewise have been aghast at the deafening decibels of laughter spilling out of Weston Studio throughout the performance. Yet, rather than cloaking ‘Cosy’ in gloom, O’Reilly’s play beams with black comedy. The sisters are wickedly funny in this cross-wired mess of a situation. The playwright displays a quite perfect clip of how families so often muddle their way through the most maze-like dramas with a ‘well, you have to laugh’ mentality. Rose’s helper, Maureen, arguably steals the show. Played by Sara Beer, Maureen plods in and out with her drip and her occasional streams of resilient, ageless wisdom. She brings temporary calm to the sea of volatile tempers on this minimalist set: an army of red armchairs. These are initially covered in dustsheets – symbolic of a house unlived in – that are gradually lifted as the household edges back into some semblance of life.
Our glimpse into this family’s sagas rings bells that ring resound long after the audience has filed out. The main thing is not to lose heart, Maureen murmurs to Rose towards the end: lose your patience, teeth, virtue, handbag, but don’t lose heart.
WALESONLINE/The Western Mail
10th March 2016
Good things happen when Kaite O’Reilly comes to Cardiff. Previous visits have resulted in critically acclaimed productions showcased by the likes of Sherman Cymru and National Theatre Wales. For what is arguably her most intimate production to date, O’Reilly may also have produced her best.
Following one day in the life of three generations of women, Cosy is a tender meditation on the value of life. Despite being in great health, seventy-something Rose has decided she wants to die, and so her three daughters and granddaughter have gathered at the family home to stop her.
What immediately stands out when watching Cosy is its honesty. O’Reilly tackles an extremely sensitive subject with a matter-of-factness that is, at times, shocking. Suicide is discussed frankly, without prejudice and, crucially, with laugh-out-loud humour, giving it a legitimacy that is both liberating and unnerving at the same time.
Wisely, director Phillip Zarrilli lets the words and performances dominate proceedings. Lighting and sound do come to the fore during scene changes, the haunting ambience adding to the sense of monotony and slowly-passing time. During scenes, though, both make rare appearances, letting the actors take control.
The result is six exceptional performances. The characters are all beautifully developed, the natural chemistry between them all making for great viewing. Standing out from the pack is Sharon Morgan, as Rose. Morgan manages to switch from impeccable comic timing to emotional depth instantly, without ever losing her gravitas. At times the text does become a bit clunky, with conversations dragging on longer than they need to, but the emotional investment in this dysfunctional family stops it being a problem.
As the play reaches its powerful conclusion, the audience is gripped. Comedies about suicide aren’t made too often but, in writing a very good one, Kaite O’Reilly proves yet again why she is amongst Britain’s best playwrights. And someone welcome back to Cardiff any time.