One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

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In the past year I have become a huge fan of the theatre, I love seeing stories come to life in a physical setting allowing me to become immersed in the show. I have been to a handful of shows now produced and performed by Sheffield Theatres, and they have all been brilliant, I haven't ever walked away disappointed!

When I heard that One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest was next in line, I was keen to go to a showing and see this, as although not being 100% familiar with the source material(s), I have obviously heard a lot about the critically acclaimed book and its 70s film adaptation. I don't know how I have arrived at this point in my life without having read or seen this, as the story, and particularly the subject matter, is something that I am always interested in exploring. In case you didn't know One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Next was a novel by Ken Kesey and the film stared Jack Nicholson in one of his most famous performances.

The plot is about a persistently reoffending criminal called Randle who is sent to a psychiatric unit after pleading insanity to avoid manual labour on a prison farm. Once arriving at hospital he meets his fellow patients and the head matron on the ward; Nurse Ratched. More than anything else, the story centres around the relationship between Randle and Ratched, and Randle's behaviour as he tries to deal with the new matriarchal authority in his life. Although, the play has themes coming out of its ears, and so there are as many interpretations to what the play is about as there are interesting quirks about the patients in the hospital.

Javaad Alipoor (Director) has set out to portray Randle, and the events of the story, in a darker light to that of the film, with the apparent intention to highlight the seriousness of the way the lead character behaves, and with particular reference to society today, where this behaviour, and the attitudes shown, come across in contrast to the much more progressive views of society at large.

On the evening of the performance, it was announced that there had been a very quick change to the casting as Nurse Ratched, who was to be played by Lucy Black, had been replaced by Jenny Livsey at the last minute. This was due to an injury to Lucy the previous day, but as Robert Hastie (Sheffield Theatres' Artistic Director) said in his impromptu introduction prior to the play, in light of the events, 'the show must go on'. Considering the short notice of this change, to an actor unfamiliar with the cast, company and with minimal rehearsal time, Livsey picked up the role to give a comfortable performance, although I'm sure she wasn't feeling that behind Nurse Rached's steely determination. Because of the last minute casting change, and the lack of time to develop her interpretation of the character, I would very much like to see the play again, to see whether the way the character came across was as a result of this, or whether Jenny Livsey always intended to give life to the performance as she did on her first night.

I loved the production, yet again the Crucible stage space (and beyond) were used to good effect (although perhaps not as imaginatively as Frost Nixon or Julius Caesar). The play is one that does stick with you, and gives you many angles to think about. It has been almost a week since I have seen this and I would love to go back and see this again!

*Tickets were provided in exchange for a review of the production, but the views and opinions are my own.
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