After a successful movie version of a play is produced, it is sometimes difficult to objectively judge subsequent play productions, because the screen characterizations and settings are ingrained in our minds as the way it should be done.
Such could have been' the case with Fullerton College's current play presentation, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Note the words "could have," however, since director * Tom -Blank and an exceptional cast of "characters"- quite effectively erase from our minds the highly successful -movie version, and replace it with their own.
A great deal of the play's ability to transcend the- movie. version is due to the performance of Randy "Bull" Stripling as; Randell P. McMurphy, a street-tough troublemaker who has chosen to. serve out the rest of his sentence on a work farm in a state mental institution.
From the moment that he walks in the door of the' institution, McMurphy decides to take it. upon himself to breathe 'a little life into the -mundane, everyday routine of the hospital..
McMurphy soon realizes, though, that he must first, liberate his fellow patients from their own supposed problems and also from the clutches of one'. Nurse Ratched, the head nurse of the ward.
Here is the start of Stripling's shining, performance as McMurphy, who must remain strong and daring in order to gain the other patients confidence, yet be sensitive and caring enough about each of their individual problems'. Stripling beautifully walks the fine edge of McMurphy's cocky, aggressive, yet deeply sensitive personality in his encounters with each of the patients.
McMurphy's fellow patients include Billy, accurately portrayed by Clayton Wilcox,- a fragile, easily breakable boy whose problems are only complicated by the threats of Nurse Ratched; Cheswick, played to a twitching. tee by Jim Landis, the ward's spastic neurotic; Scalon, played by E.W. Green, a quivering man obsessed' with blowing things up, and Martini,. played by" Jon Ellis, who could have put just a touch more personality into this character, a.,patient preoccupied by sex.
The other key characters include Dale Harding, a well-mannered gentleman who doesn't: really belong at the hospital. Martin Goslins,-as Harding, plays the easily intimidated man who becomes close friends with McMurphy' with' just the right touch of inward sensitivity and intelligence.
Chief' Bromden, the supposed' deaf mute Indian whom McMurphy ' brings out of his shell,. is portrayed perfectly by Stephen Rice, particularly in the latter scenes of the play.
Only one character falls to live up to her potential in "One Flew OverI the. Cuckoo's Nest": the character of 'Nurse Ratched.. Peggy: O'Hara, does a competent-job in the role, butI it's too safe a performance. The audience never quite comes to hate Ratched. Instead of a cold, insensitive bitch, we get a. disapproving,I grandmotherly type who is only practically - effective and takes away from the other outstandingcharacters. O'Hara has the potential to be an insensitive Ratched, but was inconsistent in communicating the character.
Another highlight to an already well-performed -play was set -design, a well-authenticated hospital set, created by Dan Brehm. The show's lighting effects also' added a great deal to the atmosphere of the play.I All in .all FC's production ofI "One' Flew Over the, Cuckoo's* Nest" is a top-notch job, well performed. It leaves you saying,"Jack Nicholson who?"