March 28th, 2012

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One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Lost Theatre


Photo credit: http://www.ayoungertheatre.com/review-one-flew-over-the-cuckoos-nest-lost-theatre/

Cut and pasted from the Lost Theatre Company website:

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Play by Dale Wasserman, based on the novel by Ken Kesey

To mark the 50th Anniversary of Ken Kesey’s novel, Paul Taylor-Mills and Amy Anzel present this cult classic which remains one most poignant dramas of the 20th Century.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was written after Ken Kesey spent time working the graveyard shift as an orderly at a mental heath institute in California. The 1975 film version won five Academy awards including Best Picture and catapulted Jack Nicholson to Hollywood royalty.

After being sentenced to prison, Randle P. McMurphy tries to avoid hard labour by agreeing to a stint in a mental institution. However, his unwillingness to comply and his compassion for his fellow patients make him a prime target for the fearsome Nurse Ratched, which has life-changing consequences for all.

The production closes on 31 March.

Follow the link for all the details:
http://www.losttheatre.co.uk/whatson/whatson

Raks's Reaction

I saw this tonight (Tuesday 27 March). I will declare my own personal interest upfront. My ex-husband recommended this book to me, I read it and just fell in love with it. I thought it was just beautiful as for me it is about the tenacity of the human spirit, even when faced with a high immovable wall of authority, rules and regulations. I love the battle Randle P. McMurphy wages against the evil Nurse Ratched, and I am really rooting for him. He has his victories, some small, some significant, along the way even though ultimately the medical establishment and Nurse Ratched's authority prove too much for him. But the book has an uplifting ending as Chief Bromden escapes and finally wins his freedom.

I read the book first. Then I saw the film. And I know this is controversial, as the film won 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture, but in my humble opinion the film did not do justice to the book; it was a pale imitation. It concentrated on one strand of the story, Randle P. McMurphy, but that was at the expense of the other patients' stories; the book was very much an ensemble piece. In the novel, Chief Bromden narrates the story and we see the narrative through his eyes. It annoyed me that in the film he was sidelined. The novel talks a lot about the Chief and his story, but none of this is in the film; the film only focuses on Randle. When I saw the film I was hugely disappointed as I felt many of the little finishes and touches in the book were not in the film, and I just kept thinking of the incidents and the dialogue that were in the book and didn't make it into the film, and how much was lost in the film.

I booked to see this purely because it was One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. As I said, it is one of my favourite novels, and so I will turn out for any adaptation of it. For me, the production really captured the heart and the soul of the book and reflected that onto the stage. Sean Buchanan as Randle P. McMurphy was outstanding. Obviously the piece turns on this one character and the actor playing the part has to be right. Sean Buchanan was right! He looked and acted "tough", his stage presence was huge, and he commanded the stage and was a real presence in all the scenes that he was in, but he also had the right level of mischief; Randle is a wisecracking clever so-and-so. Sean Buchanan managed to hit the right note re being tough yet funny. He was also very charismatic and you could fully believe that here was a rebel and a born leader, someone who others would be willing to follow. Lee Colley as Billy Bibbit was also excellent and provided great support.


Sean Buchanan as Randle P. McMurphy
Photo credit: http://www.indielondon.co.uk/gallery/one-flew-over-the-cuckoo-s-nest-gallery?imagenum=4

All the key scenes were beautifully recreated by the ensemble cast - the group therapy scene, the watching the World Series scene, the basketball scene and the party scene. There was a much more developed relationship in this adaptation between Randle and the Chief than I have seen in any other adaptation. There were a few conversations between them (I can't remember if these scenes are in the book) but those few scenes helped us to understand the growing friendship between the two men and the deepening understanding of, and empathy for, eachother. It makes the final scene that much more believable and also more poignant.

The ECT scene is very powerful and shocking. It is horrific and barbaric. It still really upsets me to know that we continue to do this to people and call it "therapeutic treatment". Enough said.

The production was a faithful adaptation of the novel; true to the spirit of the novel; completely authentic.

Anyway, to sum up, I thought this was fringe theatre at its best. Outstanding! Highly highly highly recommended.

It was the first time I had been to the Lost Theatre. I loved it! It is a 5 minute walk from Stockwell tube station and is a small theatre with tiered seating so everyone can see the whole of the stage. I am going to return there just as soon as I can as I thought the venue was fab.

I know that most of you will not be able to see this production and so I am recommending instead that you read the book. You can buy it here:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Flew-Cuckoos-Penguin-Modern-Classics/dp/0141187883/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1332891574&sr=1-1



Cut and pasted from Amazon:
Boisterous, ribald, and ultimately shattering, Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is the seminal novel of the 1960s that has left an indelible mark on the literature of our time. Here is the unforgettable story of a mental ward and its inhabitants, especially the tyrannical Big Nurse Ratched and Randle Patrick McMurphy, the brawling, fun-loving new inmate who resolves to oppose her. We see the struggle through the eyes of Chief Bromden, the seemingly mute half-Indian patient who witnesses and understands McMurphy's heroic attempt to do battle with the awesome powers that keep them all imprisoned.
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RSC appoints Gregory Doran as its new Artistic Director



Cut and pasted from an email from the RSC:

We have announced that Gregory Doran is to be our next Artistic Director.

Gregory has played a hugely important role in the life of the Company, from his earliest days as an actor with us to his current role as Chief Associate Director.

RSC Chairman Nigel Hugill said: "His long history with the Company is testament to his great skill as a director, his deep understanding of Shakespeare and a true commitment to theatre-making."

Gregory Doran said: "I am delighted to be appointed as Artistic Director of this great company. I joined the RSC 25 years ago, first as an actor, then as assistant director and then Chief Associate, so I guess if my appointment represents something, it represents a long term commitment to the disciplines and craftsmanship required to do the astonishing plays of our 'Star of Poets', William Shakespeare.”

Follow the link to read the full story:
http://www.rsc.org.uk/about-us/updates/new-artistic-director-gregory-doran.aspx