Sunday, March 13, 2011

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, (Portland Center Stage) Grade B+

by Dale Wasserman from the Ken Kesey novel
Directed by Rose Riordan
Chief Bromden   .....  Tim Sampson
Dale Harding   .....  Stephen Caffrey
Billy Babbitt  .....   Ryan Tresser
Scanlon  .....  Ebbe Roe Smith
Cheswick  .....  Craig Bockhirn
Martini  .....  John Shuman
Ruckley  .....  Rich Cashin
Randle P McMurphy  .. PK Sosko
Patient Ensemble .....  Logan Loughmiller; Noel Plemmons; Nick Schultz; Robert M Thomas

Adie Warren  .....  Vin Shambry
Adie Williams  .....  Bobby Bermea
Dr Spivey  .....  Michael Fisher-Welsh
Nurse Ratchet  .....  Gretchen Corbett
Nurse Flynn  ..... Amy Newman
Aide Turkle  .....  Tracy S Turner

Candy Starr   .....  Sara Catherine Wheatley
Sandra  .....  Val Landrum

sez says: Rose Riordan is one of my fav directors --she always brings life and meaning to the work she does.  This story is well known --and continues to be lived..even though I have to wonder why.  It is sexist to the core.  And it could be argued that is is also racist too.  Plus do we see the mental health profession in the same light today as it was suggested here in the 1960s?-- ie: people are not sick but the world around them is and the sane thing --even the brave thing to do is to struggle against illegitimate authority.

Well, good news, Riordan pulls something more from the story--the humanity of people, even when they are struggling to figure out there place in the world..and that made the play solid and sound.  But you can't get away from the story line problems of sexism and an entirely simplistic presentation of mental health issues. Sure, people get into places of power and while claiming to be benevolent abuse their power.  And certainly there are people who think they are doing 'good' for others that are indeed malevolent --but those stories can be told in a way that actually mirror society--then they have power and meaning.  As is, this Kesey romp is a reminder of days gone by and a time of simplistic social analysis.

And, not to be forgotten here--the acting was good all round. Ryan Tresser, in particular, did a first rate job of bringing Billy Babbitt to life; Ebbe Roe Smith's Scanlon was perfectly tuned;  Amy Newman shined in her small part as Nurse Flynn.  All round the acting held up well.

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