‘Cuckoo’s Nest’ still resonates

‘Cuckoo’s Nest’ still resonates - A close up of a sign - Logo

‘Society in miniature’

The littlest theater in Key West is delightfully not daunted by a big production. Hard to imagine taking on the literary giant “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey on such a small stage, but Bob Bowersox and his TheatreXP have done it with aplomb and zeal. Director Patrick New has made Summer Stage at The Red Barn Theatre entertainingly dramatic. While the play itself is a relic from America’s past, the themes and theatrical standards still resonate today.

Randle P. McMurphy, a character made infamous by Jack Nicholson on screen and Kirk Douglas on Broadway, is played by a heartfelt and fervent Ross Pipkin, who takes us back to 1963 where racism, homophobia, and governmental oppression were omnipresent. Society was a constant judge and jury for the predisposed and Kesey takes us on the emotional journey of the willful and the sufferers. Enter a mental institution in Oregon, where humor and shock treatment coincide. A passionate McMurphy becomes the leader of a gang of neurotic, almost lovable, socially unacceptable men and acts as a catalyst for them to decide between their free will or a path chosen for them.

McMurphy’s counterpart is Nurse Ratched (or Nurse Rat shit as McMurphy taunts) played by a convincing and steely Melody Moore. No other character in American literature chills or demonizes the medical profession more than Nurse Ratched, who deliberately abuses her power and patients. Moore’s performance is icy and excruciatingly on target.

“This ward is society in miniature,” said Dr. Spivey, played by Tony Konrath, who sums up the supporting cast perfectly. There’s poor, young stuttering Billy played by Billy White, who steals many scenes. Capturing the audience’s heart is iconic Chief Bromden played by Karl Stahl. And the comic relief certainly deserves mention with John McDonald as Cheswick, Mathias Maloff as Aide Turkle and Jeremy Hyatt as Martini.

“This world belongs to the strong,” said Dale Harding, played by Bob Bowersox, the cornerstone of reason and humanity in the play. Maybe and maybe not, but the play is an impassioned struggle between the the weak and the strong, the imprisoned and the free, the mad and the sane, and the ones who decide the difference.

And in gratitude for years of support of the Summer Stage, tickets are only $5, the 1963 price, and selling out fast.Go to www.redbarntheatre.com for more information.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

Red Barn Theatre

Thru Jul 23, 2017

Which one of you is full goose loony? – Randle P. McMurphy, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

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Hays Blinckmann is an oil painter, author of the novel “In The Salt,” lover of all things German including husband, children and Bundesliga. She spends her free time developing a font for sarcasm, testing foreign wines and failing miserably at home cooking.