By Dale Wasserman, adapted from the novel by Ken Kesey. Sport for Jove. Seymour Centre. August 3 – 19, 2017.
Ken Kesey’s controversial novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was based upon his experience as an orderly at a mental hospital in California. It was adapted for the stage by Dale Wasserman in 1963 with Kirk Douglas in the leading role, and the 1975 movie adaptation directed by Michael Douglas won five Academy Awards.
Whilst it exposed issues about oppression and control and the bizarre ‘medical’ treatments such as shock therapy and lobotomies being used in some institutions at the time, director Kim Hardwick’s vision is more comprehensive and symbolically suggestive:
“Ken Keseys’s metaphor for modern America is that of a mental hospital. In this case a womb-like institution able to retard development and hamper spiritual, mental and emotional growth”.
Under stark lighting designed by Martin Kinnane, on Isobel Hudson’s sterile white set, framed by plastic curtain strips and reflected in perspex mirrors, Hardwick’s vision is realised. The seemingly soul-less inmates are monitored at all times, 1984-style, with any untoward action censured by the omnipresent voice of the tyrannical Nurse Ratched.