Theatre Mirror Reviews - "ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST"

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Note: Entire Contents Copyright 2016 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Attleboro Community Theatre's current show is Dale Wasserman's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" which is a comedy/drama set in 1963. The show was first performed on Broadway by Kirk Douglas playing the lead role of Randle McMurphy. The character is a charming rogue who contrives to serve a short sentence in an airy mental institution rather than work on a prison farm. He quickly realizes his mistake when he clashes with the head nurse, a fierce martinet. McMurphy quickly takes over the ward and makes a supposed deaf and dumb patient speak after 12 years, leads the patients out of their introversions, and stages a revolt to watch TV and invite two girls to a rollicking party. Nurse Ratched submits him to shock treatment after one offense but exacts her final revenge on him when she incites him to attack her after her despicable treatment of another patient. Director David Blessinger casts a strong acting ensemble to bring these roles to life and the ending leaves the audience breathless at its powerful impact on them.

David mixes the comic and dramatic moments together wonderfully. He pays attention to the ensemble moments of the show so the audience can identify who is who in the show. David makes the audience identify with their plight. His comic moments come when the inmates clean up the place by going in the audience and dusting them off and spraying them with water to make sure they are clean. Roger Campbell plays the lead role of McMurphy. He does a terrific job in this role, handling the comic and dramatic moments with ease. Roger makes him an endearing but stern taskmaster to his fellow inmates and a taunting antagonist to Miss Ratched. He shows his warmth and caring for the other patients by trying to bring them back to a normal life by playing cards. betting, playing basketball and watching TV. One of his funniest lines is when he calls the head nurse, Miss Ratshit while his funniest scene occurs when he threatens to drop the towel after he takes a shower when she badgers him to get dressed immediately. The electroshock treatment is performed onstage and is a dramatic standout. I reviewed Roger as Val in "Laughter on the 23rd Floor" at the Walpole Footlighters a few years ago. The mean spirited head nurse is excellently played by Anne Faiella. The nurse constantly degrades the inmates, the aides and the doctor, too. The audience watches her machinations as she tries to rid the ward of the meddlesome, McMurphy. He tries to give them a positive outlook on life while she continually reminds them of their failings. Anne's lines crackle with intensity and her final showdown with McMurphy is splendidly rendered. Roger and Anne's confrontation scenes are topnotch. The nurse represents the static, stagnant and regimented behavior of the past while McMurphy's freethinking and upbeat ideas try to bring a brighter future for the inmates. Her bloody gloves are a terrific tragic moment which the evil nurse blames on McMurphy when in fact it really was all her fault.

Doug MacAskill is dynamic and powerful as Chief Bromden. He handles his monologues of narration and dialogue wonderfully. His facial expressions when he is being berated by the others and his final magnificent outburst after he helps McMurphy escape from his vegetative state are terrific, too. When he pulls the high voltage electrical box is a stunning moment. The other performers shine in their roles. Stephen G. Lee plays the leader of the inmates, Dale Harding who can't satisfy his big breasted wife. He captures the transition from weak, spineless jellyfish to a man who stands up for his fellow inmates when he helps the Chief escape after finally realizing that McMurphy helped them all. I reviewed Stephen as Aldolfo in "Drowsey Chaperone" in Walpole a couple of years ago. Another strong performance is by Bob Lively as the constantly stuttering , Billy Bibbit. He captures all of the characters insecurities. Bob gives a gut wrenching, tear jerking performance as this tortured creature. Billy stands up to the bitchy nurse after his tryst with Candy, only to have his world come crashing down when Ratched says she has to tell his mother everything that happened, leading him to do the unthinkable.

Other inmates include Alex Aponte as the delusional inmate Martini who continually talks to his invisible friend, John Campbell plays the loudmouth, Cheswick who becomes more courageous due to McMurphy's influence, Brandon Harrington as Scanlon, the curmudgeon who is building a bomb to blow up the world and Charley Carey as Ruckly, the lobotomized inmate who is used as a basketball hoop and a crucifix. The comic bimbos in this show are Emily Lamarre as Candy Star who takes away Billy's virginity and Denise Roberge as her fun loving, heavy drinking friend, Sandra while Grant Willis plays the weak willed Doctor who is also bullied by the head nurse, too. Kudos to David and everyone who makes this a show to be very proud of. The two story set by David is fabulous and the arena style seating is perfect for this show. So be sure to catch "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" before time runs out. Tell them Tony sent you.

ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST ( 30 September to 16 October)
Attleboro Community Theatre, 71 North Main St, Attleboro, MA
1(508)226-8100 or

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