Theatre Mirror Reviews-"One Flew over The Cuckoo's Nest"

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entire contents copyright 2014 by Tony Annicone

"One Flew over The Cuckoo's Nest"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Little Theatre of Fall River's current main stage show is Dale Wasserman's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", a comedy/drama set in 1963. The show was first performed on Broadway with Kirk Douglas playing McMurphy. The character is a charming rogue who contrives to serve a short sentence in an airy mental institution rather than on a work farm prison. He quickly realizes his mistake when he clashes with the head nurse, Nurse Ratched, a fierce martinet. McMurphy quickly takes over his ward, leading the other inmates out of their introversion, stages a revolt so they can watch the world series on TV and also arranges a rollicking midnight party. He also influences a fellow inmate, an Indian who has been supposedly deaf and dumb for the past twelve years. The script for the play delves deeper into the characters than the movie version especially the Indian who is given dialogue to help flesh out his character. Director Roberto Soares creates an interesting version of this well known story.

Brian Lopes plays the leading role of McMurphy. Brian makes the character endearing as well as a strict task master to his fellow inmates and a taunting antagonist to Miss Ratched. He shows the eventual caring of the others by trying to bring them back to a normal life by playing cards, betting, watching TV and playing basketball. One of his funniest lines is when he insults the head nurse by calling her Miss Ratshit. His funniest scene is when McMurphy confronts her clad only in a towel, threatening to drop it when she insists that he put his clothes back on. The horrible and mean spirited head nurse is played by Deborah Sadler. As Nurse Ratched, she degrades the inmates, aides and doctor, making the audience dislike her immensely as she continually reminds the inmates of their failings. The nurse represents the stagnant and regimented behavior of the past while McMurphy's freethinking and upbeat ideas try to bring about a better future.

The narrator of the play is the Indian Chief well played by Richard Brosky. Chief Bromden explains the mistakes his father made in the past and bonds with McMurphy when he offers the Chief a piece of gum, encouraging him to concentrate on the future. Chief Bromden helps McMurphy in an act of compassion at the end of the show. The other inmates do a topnotch job, too. Michael Coury plays Dale Harding, the leader of the inmates who can't satisfy his big breasted wife. He displays the transition from jellyfish into a man who stands up for his fellow inmates. Harding aids the Chief after his act of compassion as Harding finally realizes that McMurphy sacrificed a lot for them. Andrew Dupras plays the constantly stuttering, Billy Bibbit. He captures the young man's insecurities, displaying nice performance as this tortured creature who is destroyed by the horrible Nurse Ratched.

Other cast members who play the inmates include the energetic Don Anderson as the curmudgeon, Scanlon who is building a bomb to blow up the world, John Panchley as Cheswick, the loudmouth, Ray Almeida, Jr as Martini, the delusional inmate who continually runs around the ward and Matthew Barnes as Ruckly, the lobotomized patient who wanders around the stage aimlessly. Stacy Tinkham is the comic bimbo,Candy Starr who lightens the somber mood of the first act with her gang buster entrance and in Act 2 when she brings the booze into the ward for the party is hilarious, too. Vanessa Raposa plays her comic friend, Sandy. W. Grant Willis does a great job as the weak willed doctor who stands up to the head nurse a few times but McMurphy is eventually destroyed by the mean spirited bitch. So for a look back at Tony Award winning play, make sure you catch "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest at Little Theatre of Fall River.

"One Flew over The Cuckoo's Nest" (20 - 23 March)
@ 777 Ellsbree Street, FALL RIVER MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide