Tuesday, November 15, 2011

One flew East...

There’s a fine line that separates insanity from “normalcy”—and no where is that more evident than in Dale Wasserman’s stage adaptation of Ken Kesey’s landmark novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the current offering at McKeesport Little Theatre.
Director Lora Oxenreiter has deftly shaped her stellar cast in an outstanding, razor-sharp production.
Adam Pribila brilliantly captures the arrogance and intense sexuality of Randall Patrick McMurphy, a man who feigns madness to avoid going to prison on a charge of statutory rape.  Pribilia’s brash performance commands the stage and raises the level of the production to all new heights.
Audience members laughed heartily (and wept loudly) before the play drew to its conclusion—and much of that is due to Pribila’s performance and Oxenreiter’s wise directorial choices.
Shaun Nicole McCarthy plays McMurphy’s arch nemesis, Nurse Ratched.  Her performance is fine—but never reaches the pinnacle that Pribila does.  She starts out very quietly, almost hard to hear—and that seems inappropriate for someone of Ratched’s power.  She does build as the evening progresses, but Pribila has set the bar quite high.
As the stuttering Billy Bibbitt, T. J. Firneno gives a sensitive portrayal that will break your heart.
Sean Butler not only captures the size and stature of Chief Broom—but also the compassion and confusion of this gentle giant.
All of the ensemble is top-notch.  Standouts include Mark Calla as the milquetoast Harding, and Timothy Dougherty nearly steals the show as Martini (obsessed with talking to his imaginary friend).  Patrick Conner is quite charming as Dr. Spivey, who is taken in by McMurphy’s charms.
The ensemble adds much of the humor to Cuckoo’s Nest, keeping the story from being all doom and gloom.
Director Oxenreiter also designed the set.  The institutional green walls and linoleum floor perfectly capture the stark, sterile world of mental institutions of decades past when lobotomies and electro-shock therapy were the norm.
Don’t miss it!
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest continues through November 20.

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