One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Ambitious, almost all-female staging of Ken Kesey’s novel
This article is from 2013.
Fourth Monkey’s adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest occupies new territory, at a remove from both Ken Kesey’s novel and Milos Foreman's film. The most striking change is the almost complete gender reversal of the cast: all but a few ancillary characters are played by women, lending a whole new dynamic to the lone-lucid-in-a-mental-asylum format.
Unfortunately, the cast are not well equipped to serve the new director’s vision. Almost every character is overacted, and even those who manage to convey their parts convincingly (such as forthright academic Harding) are hamstrung by a script that is entirely lacking in subtlety. The striking, all-white set design also exists only to distract, with flashes of blue in the porters’ and nurses’ uniforms (not to mention the heavy-handed pinks of the lead, male doctor’s outfit) little more than stylistic flourishes.
Fourth Monkey should be commended for putting forth a version of Cuckoo’s Nest that attempts to hold its own against other, more familiar versions, but ultimately this production stumbles on a few basic points of believability – the casting of Billy Bibbit as a male in an all-female ward only serves to underline the show’s ultimate fiction.
theSpace on Niddry Street, 510 2383, until 24 Aug, 8.20pm, £11 (£8.50).