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"

A Review by Tony Annicone

MMAS' 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. McMurphy 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 that he made a 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 introversion and stages a revolt to watch TV and invite 2 party 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 Kelly Warriner casts a strong acting ensemble to bring these roles to life and the ending leaves the audience breathless with its powerful impact.

Kelly mixes the comic and dramatic moments splendidly, paying attention to the ensemble segments of the show which define each character so the audience can easily identify who is who.  She makes the audience empathize with their plight and blocks the show beautifully, making all the performers seen by the audience.The sanitarium set by Ken Butler, lighting by Kerry and Marc Thomas and the sound by Bruce Webster are all marvelous. Kevin Mischley plays the lead role of McMurphy. He does a terrific job in this role, handling the comic and dramatic moments with ease. Kevin makes him an endearing but stern taskmaster to his fellow inmates and a taunting antagonist to Miss Ratched. He shows his warmth and caring of the other inmates by trying to bring them back to normal life by playing cards, betting, playing basketball and watching TV. One of his funniest lines is when McMurphy calls her Miss Ratshit and one of the funniest scenes is when he threatens to drop the towel after taking a shower when she badgers him to get dressed immediately. The mean spirited head nurse is excellently played by Irina Gott. The nurse constantly degrades the inmates, aides and doctor and the audience witnesses her machinations as she tries to rid the ward of the meddlesome, McMurphy. He tries to give them a positive outlook on their lives while she constantly reminds them of their failings. Irina's lines crackle with intensity and her final showdown with McMurphy is excellently rendered. Their 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 better future.

  Theodore Koban is dynamic and powerful as the 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 outburst after he helps McMurphy escape from his vegetative state are topnotch, too. The other performers shine in their roles. Craig O'Connor plays Dale Harding, the leader of the inmates who can't satisfy his big breasted wife. He captures the transition from spineless jellyfish to a man who stands up for his fellow inmates when he helps the Chief escape while finally realizing that McMurphy really helped everyone after all. A standout performance is by Petr Favazza as the constantly stuttering, Billy Bibbit. I first reviewed Petr as a thirteen year old in "Brighton Beach Memoirs" in 2007 when he played the huge role of Eugene. He has grown into a terrific, mature actor, capturing Billy's insecurities. He gives a gut wrenching, tear jerking performance as this tortured creature. He stands up to the bitchy nurse after his tryst with Candy, only to have his world come crashing down when Ratched explains she'll have to tell his mother everything, leading him to do the unthinkable.

Other inmates include Adam Law as the delusional inmate Martini, who continually talks to his invisible friend, Chris Diorio plays the loudmouth, Cheswick who becomes more courageous due to McMurphy's influence, Jay Silvi as Scanlon, the curmudgeon who is building a bomb to blow up the world and Ken Butler as Ruckly, the lobotomized patient who is used as a basketball hoop and a crucifix. He keeps muttering "Fuck everyone".They are hilarious in their roles and their pretending to watch the world series at the end of Act 1 is a show stopping moment of hilarity.The comic and sexy bimbos in the show are Laura Gustafson as Candy Star, who takes away Billy's virginity and Atia DeRosa as her fun loving, heavy drinking friend, Sandra. Atia also plays the mousy nurse in Act 1 who is afraid of McMurphy. They both shine in their roles. Greg Smith plays the  weak willed Doctor who is bullied by the head nurse, too. Kudos to Kelly and everyone who makes this a show to be very proud of. So be sure to catch "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" at MMAS before time runs out. Tell them Tony sent you.

"One Flew over The Cuckoo's Nest" (12 - 28 September)
@ 377 North Main Street, MANSFIELD MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide