An Australian comedy featuring transsexual and lesbian characters will be coming to the White Bear Theatre Club in London later this month.

Così, written by Louis Nowra, is set in a Melbourne Mental Asylum in 1971.

A young university student called Lewis is attempting to direct a play starring an eclectic group of patients, among them Ruth, who is obsessed with counting, and Julie, a philosophical lesbian heroin addict.

The piece that Lewis has to create is the asylum’s unique version of Mozart’s Così fan Tutte.

The cult play, first performed in 1992, was made into a film in 1996 starring Toni Collette as Julie.

This is the first time the character of Ruth will be played as a transsexual.

Director Adam Spreadbury-Maher said he was inspired by Christine Jorgensen, who was the first well-known trans person to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

Mark Little, who found fame as Joe Mangel in Neighbours, stars as Roy, the ringleader in the asylum.

Like the rest of the patients he cannot sing or speak a word of Italian.

Spreadbury-Maher, 26, has previously directed plays by Jonathan Harvey, Joe Orton, Jonathan Larkin and Ayab Khan Din.

He won the Australian Critics Circle award in 2004 and is an Associate Director at the White Bear Theatre and a Young Vic Theatre Genesis Director.

Previews of the play begin on 29 July. Cosi will be at the White Bear Theatre Club until 24 August.