“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” Aug 8 – Aug 23, 2003

Cuckoo_bigThe original Rage Against The Machine. Dale Wasserman’s dramatic rendering of the novel by Ken Kesey concerns Randle P. McMurphy, a social misfit who has landed himself in trouble a few too many times even for the prison system, and has accepted a stay at the State mental hospital, thinking it might be “easier time”. Overseeing the ward to which McMurphy is assigned is Nurse Ratched, who will become his chief antagonist. The ward is designed to mimic a democratic society, in order to better fit its population of chronic and acute patients for a return to The Real World. Wasserman’s script makes many allegorical allusions to that idealized world and its all too shabby and frustrating reality, as it becomes clear that far too often a patient’s progress is from bad to worse, whether by direct or subtle intervention by Nurse Ratched, the hospital staff and bureaucracy, which McMurphy terms “The Combine”. McMurphy’s rebellion against the patients’ restrictive lives takes the form of clandestine poker games (for money!), an attempted parliamentary procedure to allow the inmates to watch the World Series, and an after hours party involving booze and broads. Religious as well as political overtones are evidenced, as McMurphy eventually sacrifices himself to gain redemption and release for the less courageous, or or could that be, defiant? Themes of the subversion of innocence and the natural order are carried through the characters of Billy Bibbitt and Chief Bromden, and the many subsets of society are depicted in the ward’s varied population and their problems. The play is raucous, bawdy, poignant and pointed, and a feast for actors with a desire to perform in a true ensemble cast.