Soon after meeting his fellow patients in an unnamed mental institution, Randle P. McMurphy exclaims, Damn, what a sorry-lookin bunch! Funny, I thought the same thing when viewing the OKC Theatre Company production of Dale Wassermans highly effective adaptation of Ken Keseys novel One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. OKCTC should take that as a high compliment: This is a loony-looking cast.
Any production of this familiar story depends on the actors playing McMurphy and his nemesis, Nurse Ratched. For those whove yearned to see Angie Duke play Ratched, heres your chance. Illuminating every play shes in, shes particularly chilling here.
The manipulation is written into the script, but the scenes where Ratched subtly dominates a psychiatrist, just as she does the patients, are especially appealing.
Making his debut, Drew Pollock does the heavy lifting as McMurphy, and hes up to the task. And what type of actor does it take? In the original 1963 stage production, McMurphy was played by Kirk Douglas; in the 1975 film, Jack Nicholson not exactly a couple of pikers. Pollock is an appealing actor, and it would be nice to see him in other plays.
Staging this Nest in the intimate space challenges director George Adams. The theater layout creates poor sight lines for some of the audience; in such a small space, details become amplified. The costumes and institutional decor suggest the early 1960s.
Rick Foresee does a fine job as the stuttering Billy Bibbit; with his mop of hair, he bears an uncanny resemblance to the movies Brad Dourif. Ian Clarke takes a while to get his footing, but when he does, hes believable as Dale Harding, the snooty patient whos victimized as much as treated by Ratcheds cruel therapy.
In the small role of Aide Turkle, El Logan is a hoot. Tyler Waits plays a patient who spends his time making a bomb perhaps an amusing eccentricity 50 years ago, but cause for federal prison today.
Yancey Red Corn plays Chief Bromden. In several scenes, Red Corn voice is heard on tape; these scenes are important in establishing Chief Bromdens background, but Adams seems to have told Red Corn, Here, read this as fast as you can.
The result is an unrealistic performance that I doubt Adams and certainly not Wasserman intended.
The production is entertaining, but lacks the minute detail and strong acting throughout the cast to be top-notch.