ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NESTBy Dale Wasserman
Based on the novel by Ken Kesey
Garland Civic Theatre
Directed by – Juan M Perez
Stage Manager – Shauna Holloway
Asst. Stage Manager – Brittany Mantsch
Scenic Design – Edgar Hernandez and Juan M Perez
Fight Choreographer – Joseph Taylor
Fight Captain – Josh Hensley
Costume Design – Kerra Sims
Lighting Designer – Morgan Lemay
Sound Designer – Alex Wade
Sound Board Operator – Mason Korger
Prop Designer – Hannah Bartholomew
Chief Bromden – Patrick Douglass
Aide Warren – Conner Gunnels
Aide Williams – Erik Chavez
Nurse Ratched – Lucia A Welch
Nurse Flinn – Callie Buck
Dale Harding – Joe Porter
Billy Bibbit – Michael Shallcross
Frank Scanlon – Josh Hensley
Charles A Cheswick II – Gary Eoff
Anthony Martini – Russell Sims
Ruckly – Alex Wade
Randle P McMurphy – Joe Cucinotti
Dr. Spivey – David Noel
Aide Turkle – Christopher Lucero
Candy Starr – Samantha Labrada
Sandra – Hallie Davidson
Baseball Announcer – Matt McClearin
Reviewed Performance: 2/22/2020
Reviewed by Carla Wicks, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
This type of work, dealing with mental health issues, is very difficult to bring to the stage because of the delicate manner in which healthy individuals must take on the challenges of portraying a person suffering from different degrees of mental instability. Very Daunting and yet when done correctly can draw audiences into a world many never venture into. It is hard to get into the head of a mentally challenged individual enough to portray them in a manner to draw audience members. Kudos to each person in the cast who had to develop their character for this stage production. Some were done well and some lacked full commitment.
The opening presence of Chief Bromden played by Patrick Douglass set the stage for the production. His dialogue drew you in as you attempted to understand the ramblings of a mind lost in the past while existing in the present. His character was always on point with physical movement and speech delivery. His facial connections and mannerisms, while difficult to maintain for longs bouts of silence onstage, came off genuine and accurate.
The Aides played by Conner Gunnels and Erik Chavez left me wanting more. Whenever a theatre elects to do a production without microphones it becomes the job of the actor to make sure their voice can be heard. In many cases, lines were too quiet and dialogue trailed off when heads turned away from the audience. These aides would have been a very determined duo and powerful in presence. Like Nurse Ratched they run this ward and I was not getting this from them. In light of the men patients in this ward, they did not present as a towering force when they were onstage.
Nurse Ratched played by Lucia Welch while on point with her movement and precision at line delivery left me again wanting more. This character has to be the most powerful presence in the play to balance and go toe to toe with McMurphy. Everything you read in the book and know of the character analysis tells you she is strong, big, mean natured. She personifies a military drill sergeant on steroids. When she speaks the men cower. Her appearance needs to command the room. Collective gasps from the audience should be heard when she first marches onto the stage.
Nurse Flynn played by Callie Buck is much more docile and easily scared which she was able to portray very well. My only concern with her character, and crosses into a costume issue, is that rosary beads are never worn like a necklace. Worn at the waist or carried in her hand but not around the neck.
Dr. Spivey played by David Noel was again someone I was waiting to see how he would handle his role as the only mentally healthy male on this ward but very much under the control of Nurse Ratched. I liked the initial entrance to the group session and then waited to see if I got the power, tug of war struggle between him and Nurse Ratched. I could have seen more of this angst so it off set when there came a time to stand up for himself, his decisions as well as for the other men. Different contrasting emotions would jump this character to the next level.
The men of the ward – great job to each of you. I could feel your individual mental challenges and your character choices with verbal and non-verbal actions were well done. Joe Porter played by Dale Harding made me feel for your challenges with your degree of masculinity, Billy Bibbit played by Michael Shallcross gave me the most tender look into the mind of a timid soul still too attached to his mother, Frank Scanlon played by Josh Hensley was terrific with the levels of your character. Rising to heights when needed and calmer and more introspected as needed. Good job of staying in the character when dialogue was not involving you. Charles Cheswick II played by Gary Eoff provided just the right amount of balance with interaction with the other ward mates. Good job making a flow of personalities happen though out the show. Anthony Martini played by Russell Sims had one of the more difficult characters to portray since there wasn’t that much knowledge of the challenges you faced. To be able to carry off the character in mostly movement and facial expressions was done nicely. Ruckly played by Alex Wade I must applaud you for a no-line character who was onstage for most of the show you were great. It is never easy to hold postures for long periods of time and not do anything to pull focus but yet keep the audience drawn to you because of your mental struggle. Great job sir.
Randle P McMurphy played by Joe Cucinotti hit the right mix on all levels. Your first entrance sets your character. There was never a time I couldn’t hear or understand what you were saying or trying to convey. Spot on with each time onstage and all interactions with fellow ward mates were terrific. You could have gotten more in Nurse Ratched’s space on a few occasions to show the transition you were going for in regards to getting her flustered. Nice job overall.
Aide Turkle played by Christopher Lucero is a smaller part but needs that brazen boldness to his character. You are “breaking” the rules with your sneaky behavior and seeing you appear, as the overpowering night guard who has his own agenda, needs a contrast we can see both in action and expression. I was not thinking it was time for audience laughter as much as a time for classic real life.
Candy Starr played by Samantha Labrada brought the levity and female transition we needed to this ward. The scene playing off McMurphy was nicely done and could have been more provocative. Your nicer and gentler side, bringing out the tender nurturer quality in the scene with Billy, was really sweet. Good job.
Sandra played by Hallie Davidson again brought the loose lady element we needed in that scene and her character moved great among the men while not breaking her own individuality. Nice job being in the asylum yet in control of your presence around the men.
I especially liked the use of light in this show as designed by Morgan Lemay. It was where it needed to be and had just the right hues and tones for each scene. I never once thought of a way it could have been better applied. Very nice job.
I did have a concern with the set as the hanging panels first caught my eye and caused visual problems once the production started. I would have liked the show much better without them. The audience could get the idea when the cast was “looking out” without having them. The one that served as a door brought confusion because it looked like some were supposed to be windows, yet people would not be climbing in and out of windows especially since it needed unlocked. The set pieces were good, but I would have liked everything more upstage because things happening around the couch got lost, as you were further back in the audience. The group sessions could have then used the couch and chairs. Same with the card table, more upstage and losing the hanging panels would have given the audience better visuals of all actors. The nurse’s station was excellent and brought a great hospital feel to the set. Colors used for the upstage panels were nice in the basic hospital white shades. The upstage black curtain behind the “operating” area needed to have the backstage lights off. There was a clear line of sight into the movements offstage when going through the curtain.
Costumes by Kerra Sims were nicely done. My only issue was the inconsistent look of the nurses. Nurse Ratched was great in white uniform, cap, white hose, and those 60’s classic nurse shoes. It should have been the same for her assistant nurse. Maybe an added bathrobe for both and hair a bit askew in the early morning woken up scene would have brought more power to this scene. Nice job though with the overall look.
The props by Hannah Bartholomew were appropriate and well thought through for the time period and the set requirements while the fight choreography was nicely done with the various individuals who needed movements that were potentially harmful. Nice job of a balance of normal and agitating action in the production.
The sound design by Morgan Korger was very good. I don’t know if the not working announcement microphone from the nurse’s station was a switch that wasn’t flipped in the tech booth or controlled by the actor on stage but we missed that one time it was not on as nothing could be heard. Also, in the scene where the Nurse’s voice is coming through the intercom system and not from her in the nurse’s station, the onstage actors need to look up toward the ceiling and not toward the tech booth. With this action it caused many in the audience to look at the booth as if they were expecting the Nurse to be standing in the aisle. All other uses of sound and the different background sound effects and music choices for the Chief’s dialogue were very well done. Enjoyed this a lot.
I know it is just the nature of the beast when there are two sets in the same building that you will have bleed over of noise from one event to the other. It was a bit distracting when the other event let out and people were leaving the facility just outside the theater doors. Maybe rerouting foot traffic away from that one hallway to another exit door or a “Quiet Zone” sign with a tech or volunteer to direct people that another event is in progress would be helpful.
Stage Managers Shauna Holloway and Brittany Mantsch did nice with respect to the movement of their actors. With very little changing of set pieces, it did make for an easier job. Nice work.
The direction of this play by Juan Perez, in a piece like this and the subject matter, was not easy. I felt very drawn to the ward patients. It is hard to get this many actors to be fully invested into being “ill”. Nice job of positioning them so the audience could experience each character.
Overall the entire production was enjoyable and for the audience, I could tell they were involved in the story. It was a good presentation of a look into an insane asylum and the various treatment modalities used for patient control. Good job cast and crew and much success during your run.