One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

by Dale Wasserman from Ken Kesey

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest had 4 performances almost 13 years ago (between the 23rd of November 2005 and the 26th of November 2005)

The story of a devil-may-care rogue who has been transferred from prison because of difficult behaviour into an American state mental institution.

McMurphy transforms the cold, lifeless, loveless ward by charming and cheering everyone except the fiercely matriarchal Chief Nurse Ratched and works wonders with a mute Indian, Chief Bromden.

However, Randle McMurphy is condemned by Nurse Ratched to a frontal lobotomy because he challenges her supreme authority on the ward. To save him from a certain fate of existing the rest of his time as a vegetable Chief Bromden smothers him to death and eventually attains his own kind of freedom.

This is an uncompromising play about the triumph of the human spirit over the dehumanising forces of repression and enforcement.

The American state mental institution is used as a metaphor for a conformist society into which enters a rebellious spirit. The play also examines the efficacy of some treatments of patients with mental health problems and highlights issues of authority and rebellion. It puts the spotlight on the pressure to conform exerted by big governments and society and the consequent abolition of freedom for the individual. It poses the question “in a society where the authorities decide who is sane, where is the place for the eccentric who is different?

The play is packed with colourful different characters and is rich in bawdy humour and emotional intensity. This powerful play offers great acting opportunities for twelve men and three or four women.

The play is based on a novel by Ken Kesey published in 1962. It was made into a memorable film starring Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher. Ken Kesey was a sixties counter culture guru. Some of the treatments descriBed in his book have now fallen from favour but his premise that we trust our professionals to do the right thing but, should an unscrupulous regime get into power, branding different people as insane could be a major weapon against dissent, still holds true. When it comes to matters of the brain we may often be denied the right to make up our own minds.

Pictures of this production are available at: http://gallery.rdg.org/

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Randle McMurphy - Philip Audaer

A rebellious spirit – half Christ, half con-man. He provides a good deal of the wit, humour and energy in the play. A loud, swaggering extrovert with a devilish grin and charismatic roguish presence

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Dale Harding - David Webb

President of the patients’ council, he is articulate and witty. In his late thirties, he is handsome and effete. Sadly he has big relationship problems and is hiding from them

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Chief Bromden - Adam Roberts

Over six feet tall, a bull-muscled Native American Indian, but carries himself like a small man. Out of supreme fear he feigns deafness and dumbness. Down trodden by the American authorities he watches his father beaten up for refusing to move from his land. As he regains his speech he looks to McMurphy to make him big again.

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Billy - Nick Lund

Although almost thirty he appears like a boy. He is bullied by his mother and Nurse Ratched and has a bad stammer. A virgin, he is scared of most things and ultimately he commits suicide.

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Scanlon - Nigel Smith

A balding, paranoid schizophrenic, he is often attempting to make bombs to blow up people. He is often rude and lacking in sentimentality.

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Cheswick - Ben Rowland

Chubby, with a crew cut and a manner which alternates between truculent and cringing. Moody and emotionally changeable.

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Martini - Ian Thomas

small, wiry Italian. Hyperactive, naïve, frantic and excitable. He suffers from chronic hallucinations.

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Dr Spivey - Tony Frier

The resident psychiatrist. Pipe-smoking, glasses fumbling, harassed fellow with no great force.

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Aide Williams - Ian Slight

With Aide Warren two panther, cat-like bullies. Often grim faced, bound by rules, propelled by Nurse Ratched’s regime they execute their duties with military precision and are servile to higher authority.

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Aide Turkel - Roy Selfe

An ageing, doddery nightwatchman on the way out.

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Aide Warren - Jamie Sims

With Aide Williams, two panther, cat-like bullies. Often grim faced, bound by rules, propelled by Nurse Ratched’s regime they execute their duties with military precision and are servile to higher authority.

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Ruckley - Iain Donaldson

In an acute catatonic state. Chronically mentally ill; blank faced with empty eyes – speaks very little apart from the odd swear word

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Nurse Ratched - Anne Nunn

Handsome, ageless woman. The powerful chief nurse who rules her regime with a rod of iron. She has a strange perfection about her skin, her face and her body. She is the misogonist’s nightmare – the female as the castrator. She has no life outside the hospital, no husband, no family. An angel of mercy dedicated to her job, deeply controlled and controlling. A beautiful bitch with an empty, professional smile.

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Nurse Flyn - Jenny Powell

(Could also double as Sandra). A young, Catholic nurse, ruled by her religion and Nurse Ratched. Vapid and apprehensive, like her patients she has no power

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Sandra - Ann Philcox

Candy’s giggly sidekick who visits the ward for the thrills and voyeuristic curiosity

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Candy - Helen Murphy

McMurphy’s latest woman. Warm, sexy, good fun. Likes a drink, a laugh and a thrill

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Director - Judith Dolley

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Set Design and Construction - John Godliman

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Stage Manager - Clare Pinnock

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Lighting - Bill Payne

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Sound - Ian Santry

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Stage Manager (assistant) - Liz Thomas

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Lighting (Assistant) - Jonathan Miller

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Sound - Mark Humble

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Properties - Clare Pinnock

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Properties - Anne Nunn

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Wardrobe - Helen Murphy

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Box Office Manager - Ann Philcox

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Front of House Manager - Jill Payne