'Cuckoo's Nest' back at
the Alley Theatre
By Geronimo Rodriguez
Daily Cougar Staff
Dale Wasserman's dramatization of Ken Kesey's
classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest has returned to the Alley Theatre.
This version was first staged at the Alley
in 1992, when Gregory Boyd directed James Black and Annalee Jefferies as
they portrayed Randall P. McMurphy and Nurse
Photo courtesy of T. Charles
From left, James Black stars
as McMurphy and Todd Waite stars as Harding in the Alley Theatre's production
of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
Both actors reprise their role in Boyd's
revival of the play, which reflects Kesey's adamant attitude against mental
institutions and the institutions of the 1960s altogether.
It also embodies Kesey's symbolic cry
to those who felt oppressed by government to search for truth.
Along with these ideas, the play relays
the luminous world of acid trips and other recreational drugs — a hallucinatory
element often found in the works of writers from
the Beat generation.
Kesey, an American icon who contributed
to both Jack Kerouac's Beat movement of the '50s and the Woodstock era
of the '60s, is known as the captain of the
renowned bus Furthur. His trip, which
was later recorded in Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test in which
the "merry pranksters" rode high on LSD, served as
testament to where the counterculture
movement was headed.
Unlike Milos Forman's Oscar-winning 1975
film version of the same title, Wassermann follows Kesey's novel more closely
as he simulates a few drug-induced scenes
and, more importantly, treats Chief Bromden
as a central figure in the story.
Bromden, played by Michael Nichols, describes
his thoughts of the dreadful machinery and impenetrable fog just as Kesey
These are themes found in the play and
not in the film, which makes Wasserman's version more distinct, if not
better, when the idea of preserving Kesey's novel is
Black's rousing performance as the bull-goose
loony complements Kesey's idea of the rebellious character as he riles
the mental patients and irritates the head nurse
Jefferies' portrayal as the notorious Nurse
Ratched is as wicked as ever. The character strolls the combine in immaculate
form and is hardly affected by McMurphy's
There is more than enough entertainment
for audiences — it comes in the form of a stuttering Billy Bibbit (Ty Mayberry),
a neurotic Redding (Todd Waite) and a
number of other patients in the ward.
Cuckoo's Nest is staged on the Alley's
Large Stage Feb. 27 through March 23.
Tickets are $35 to $50. For more ticket
information and a list of show times, call the box office at (713) 228-9341
or visit www.alleytheatre.org.