One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
through September 20, 2015
In 1962, in the days of early civil rights movements and usage of LSD, Ken Kersey wrote the book about people controlling people in a psych hospital in Oregon. The book caused quite an uproar and was thought to be a grand epic by some, and a piece of you-know-what by others. In fact, it was banned from many schools and libraries.
It was later made into a play in 1963 and a film in 1975. Jack Nicholson was in the film which won several Academy Awards. But, regardless that there are a few adaptations which have been made, it is still a difficult piece of work.
This is not one you want to bring Ms. Prim to see, if she will take offence at the usual F words. And, you certainly do not want to use a show like this to introduce youngsters to live theatre. While there is some humor in it, the pathos underlies every minute and the ending is not what you may wish to see a second time.
Saying that, I can also say that this is the best performance of this work that I have ever seen. Susan Booth and her casting director Jody Feldman brought together a incredible cast of 16 players who represent the cream of the local crop of actors; and they each work their magic 100%.
The principals in the story are a street guy named Randle Patrick McMurphy who gets in the face of a nurse with a pole in her, named Nurse Ratched. Neal Ghant as McMurphy and Tess Malis Kincaid as the nurse, really get into it and move the story along on the twisted tracks. There are some inmates who are there because they opted to be in the facility, and then there is Randle who is there because he faked being a nutter to escape getting sent to a prison work farm for some misdeeds.
He’s not the only one faking things. The Native American Indian, Chief Bromden (Jeremy Proulx) feigns deafness as his way of avoiding issues. Richard Garner plays a weird old guy who has very few lines, while Andrew Benator, Chris Kayser, Joe Knezevich and Anthony P. Rodriguez are each in supporting roles rather than being center stage as usual.
Eric Mendenhall plays the stuttering virginal Billy Bibbit, and he’s the one who gets caught getting it on with Candy which leads to all hell breaking loose among the patients and the staff. Just in case you have never read the story nor seen the film or play, I shall not say just where it goes; other than to remark that this is not a comedy in any sense of the word. Alas, it may be a reflection of what actually went on in some institutions such as Bellevue and others. Oh yes, those were the days before lawyers were allowed to advertise on TV.
Bottom line is that this is a truly excellent, Broadway quality presentation, and it is selling out many dates. So, for tickets and info visit them at AllianceTheatre.org