Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Friday, 2 June 2017
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, June 1, 2017 ***1/2
THEATRE Adapted by Dale
Wasserman from Ken Kesey’s novel
Presented by Monster Media Southbank Theatre, The Lawler, until June 11, 2017
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Thurs June 1, 2017
Review also published in Herald Sun Arts online on Friday June 2, 2017, and later in print. KH
Michael Robins, Eddie Muliaumaseali'l GWPhotography
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, adapted in 1963 by
Dale Wasserman from Ken Kesey’s novel, is both funny and heartbreaking as we
witness the absurdities and horrors facing a disparate group of men in a
psychiatric ward in 1960s America.
Randle P. McMurphy
(Michael Robins) thinks he is getting an easy ride when, instead of facing a
five-month stretch in prison, after convincing a judge to commit him to a psych
With his gutsy,
provocative and blokey behaviour, McMurphy livens up the fellas in the ‘acute’
ward with some low-key gambling, boisterous basketball games, secret partying
and simple disobedience that make McMurphy an enemy of Nurse Ratched (Catherine
Glavicic) who controls the ward.
Sorheim’s dynamic and spirited production, with its cast of 16, is set in a
clinical, black and white hospital ward (Sarah Tulloch designer) and focuses on
McMurphy’s relationships with the other patients, and on his own blindness to
his precarious circumstances.
a muscular performance as the unwitting hero, McMurphy, playing him with tenacity
and audacity as well as a vigorous, adolescent playfulness. We want him to win,
to beat Nurse Ratched and to save his newfound pals from their slide into
institutionalisation and despair.
Ratched is the villain and, because of her bullying and manipulation, can never
be likeable, but Glavicic’s portrayal reveals Ratched’s misguided view that her
unyielding, control freak behaviour is in her patients’ best interests.
Michael Robins, Catherine Glavicic, Paul Morris GWPhotography
Muliaumaseali’l is velvet-voiced and dignified as American Indian Chief Bromben,
who seems to be catatonic and addresses the audience only in lyrical, internal
monologues, until McMurphy brings him to life again.
Nicholas Denton is boyish
and sympathetic as stuttering Billy Bibbit who is ruled by his mother’s critical
opinion of him, and Troy Larkin is credible and dapper as Harding, an
intellectual, Southern gentleman who is intimidated by his voluptuous wife.
rebellion and hope of recovery of Act One transforms in Act Two into insidious
control and menace as we realise that McMurphy’s playtime is at an end.
tames her patients by enforcing rigid ‘ward rules’, belittling them and
removing their privileges, and she controls disobedience with frightening
threats of electric shock treatment or worse – lobotomy.
This is a
funny and moving production and Wasserman’s stage play is as compelling as Kesey’s
ground breaking novel and the 1975 movie starring Jack Nicholson, but it is the
desperation of the men in the psych ward that haunts the audience after we
leave the theatre.
Josh Futcher, Troy Larkin, Eddie Muliaumaseali'l, Michael Robins, GWPhotography