I have not read the book or seen the film. I know though, I would not be as impressed by the film as the performance I saw. Firstly, because theatre is much my preferred medium over film. Secondarily because the performance, was so vivid. A film with characters brandishing toilet brushes could not make me shudder, my hand would not go to my mouth upon hearing a head hitting a wall on screen to how it did when it was feet in front of me and I could almost feel the reverberations and being exposed to the lightening as on the set, created the ambience particularly when alarms sounding or during electric shock treatment. Thirdly as I hear the film was produced in the 1970s, therefore I imagine I would find it dated.
I was not completely absorbed by the storyline and felt perhaps, some of it went over my head. As well as the main action on stage, there were also two office sets one, on top of the other, in the corner of the stage where action sometimes occurred simultaneously to that on the main stage and I found I could not keep up with that. If you do attend one of the last shows of the run that finishes Saturday night, then it is worth in second half after the party scene keeping an eye on this area of the stage! SPOILER ALERT post the party the suicide of a character occurs in this area of the stage.
I was originally due, to see the snow Tuesday but, it was cancelled due to emergency casting issues meaning performers, have been part of the cast mere days. The actor playing the pivotal character of McMurphy was one of the performers, pulled in at very short noticed; not an understudy; someone who was previously not involved with the production. Despite him carrying the script, his performance is sensational. The show only runs until Saturday night. If by Saturday night, he is off script then anyone seeing the performance will be utterly convinced by the performance. He had all the mannerisms just right.
The main nurse had also been pulled into the production during last couple of days, but had the advantage of being in a production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest last autumn, she was off script and gave a fully polished performance.
A bonus of attending tonight, rather than Tuesday as originally planned was I was able to attend a post show Q & A. This revealed, how good the accents were. I was surprised, when one of the actors spoke in a Liverpudlian accent. An Americain in the audience said she had been in the UK for 20years and those were the most convincing Americain accents she had heard in a show.
Another member of the audience commented that they had worked in an institution like the one depicted and thought the only aspect missing from the way it was portrayed on stage was the smell. The concensus of the performers was that, they did not have to look far around their friends and family to see mental health issues. They talked about the dilemma of portraying the illnesses reapectfully whilst also having to exaggerate to some extent to deliver a theatrical performance. Apparently the characters have evolved and changed over the run.
Although the book was published in 1959, the issues surrounding mental health are very contemporary. I’m not sure, I want to read the book because have a feeling I may find the text slow going. I’am tempted to suggest it for a book club, book because I think it be an interesting discussion. For me from the play it was the notion of whom and how someone is labelled sane or insane was thought provoking. This to me is a similar theme to the crux of Catch 22 and also resonated with the battle faced by Salender in the Girl who kicked the hornet’s nest which I have recently read.
Part of the cast’s determination for the show to go on despite the challengers was because they felt it was an important story to tell. It sounds like the cast have had to put lots of work in this week due to the recasting and yet all of them turned up for a non mandatory Q and A; it is impressive the dedication of the cast and director, the quality performance they achieved and the amount of talent in the show.