One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
A celebrated work such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest brings with it a heritage and a familiarity
A celebrated work such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest brings with it a heritage and a familiarity. In a way this makes interpreting something already so revered a braver endeavour than creating an entirely new play. Human Sacrifice Theatre proved on the opening night of their 2011 production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, that they were up to the task.
If attendance is any reflection of the play's run, then seats will be occupied for most sessions. Producer Arthur Panagiotaras was certainly busy observing official duties. A healthy buzz enveloped Chapel Off Chapel, and expectant audience members were not let down.
The stage design was successful, utilising a main doorway - the entry / exit to the mental institution - which bisected the nurses station in one half and a large window on the other. Here bars obscured the prospect of a free outside, a constant reminder of detention. The resulting spatial balances allowed the presence of such a large cast never seem too cramped.
In fact, when the focus of exchange between characters intensified in one area of the stage, peripheral actors heightened the overall tension of the work through secondary nuance. Antonios Baxevanidis who played the part of lobotomised Ruckley, never faded into the walls. His hand shook terminally while he stared zombified at unfolding action with the eyes of a man made redundant through cruel surgery. His repeated profanities (a few of which were passionate Greek obscenities) proved the clarifying explosions the audience needed at times. Likewise, Adam Mattaliano's Martini roved around the margins sighting invisible companions and gesticulating both humorously and disturbingly.
Main actor Mark Diaco, playing the title role of Randle P. McMurphy, exemplified the edginess manifest in such dogged individuals to whom any concept of defeat is unfamiliar. McMurphy, as an Australian, lifted the character in some respects, a history of national mischievousness embellishing the determined rebel. Diaco has a fierce repertoire.
Tortured monologues by Chief Bromden played by Yorta Yorta man Stan Yarramunua, punctuated the main acts of the play, audience members witness to the internal workings of a patient who is a captive of his own mind, let alone physically. The lighting and video projection used during these sequences was mesmerising, and again evidence of a thoroughly conceptualised work.
Just on the lighting and video projection: I don't imagine electroshock therapy is easy subject matter to achieve live, but a foray into fusion-theatre where stage and film collide achieved this during the play's pivotal moment.
Human Sacrifice Theatre has managed to create an engaging and bruised work concerned with concepts of freedom in a time where volatility is rife in the world. It is a gripping production, unflinching yet compassionate.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, now until December 11, Chapel off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran, Bookings 03 8290 7000 or humansacrificetheatre.com
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