Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest turned heads in more ways than one. It made people look differently at the way mental health patients were treated and brought something so often hidden to the forefront of people’s thoughts. The 1975 film starring the inimitable Jack Nicholson then went on to win no less that 5 Academy Awards. With that in mind it’s easy to see why expectations were high when attending the opening night of Curve’s stage adaptation.
The space in the theatre was used to maximum effect, with the whole play taking place in the one hospital scene setting. Despite this, it never once seemed to get old or boring (even though the play was some 2 ½ hours long). The scenery wasn’t what was important; it was the characters on stage. Having seen the adverts for the play around town I had been racking my brains trying to work out where I recognised Michael Beckley from and it was only just before entering the theatre that I overheard someone mention “the one from Home & Away”. Ah yes, of course, as the flashes from my childhood came back! An Aussie soap star taking on Jack Nicholson, this will be interesting! In the role of McMuprhy, it would have been easy to overact and lose meaning from the part, however Beckley managed to play it just right. His performance was, whilst perhaps not quite as emotive as I’d have hoped, still encapsulating and believable.
For me it wasn’t the role of McMurphy who stole the show in this adaptation but instead the rest of his fellow patients. Each of them portrayed their own interpretation of their character as we found ourselves laughing followed by stunned silence moments later. None of these roles are simple to play, each have their own complex personalities and the cast did a sterling job of entertaining the audience and bringing this story to life.
If you’re familiar with the book or film you’ll already have a mindful of expectations, however the Curve production more than matched up to these and provided a fantastic evening of entertainment. If you’re new to the story then prepare yourself for an enthralling performance, which will no doubt leave you reaching out for the dvd and book to compare!
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is at Curve until Saturday 5th November and tickets can be booked from HERE.