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Folk and Blues
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
by Dale Wasserman
From the book by Ken Kesey
The Mitre Theatre, Croydon
April 2014
Directed by Dave Price
Please CLICK HERE to view Marcus Ascott's show photos.

Download a .pdf of the programme HERE


Sheer madness captured with performances at Trinity School

BELLA BARTOCK is plain fagged out after a night watching the latest production by the Mitre Players. But to borrow the words of Jack Nicholson, at least she tried, suckers…
Two things linger from this Mitre Players production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
There is the assured confidence with which the cast reach for the strong characterisation required in this powerful stage adaptation of the Ken Kesey novel. Then there is the smell of tobacco smoke on your clothes from the persistent smoking on stage.
It is a challenge to meet expectations when the 1975 film version of the play secured five of the major Oscars that year.
Such was the strength of the performances that this production would easily grace the professional stage.
Tamsin Reeve is genuinely steely in her role as the controlling Nurse Ratched. Paul Bowles in the role Jack Nicholson played, of McMurphy, brings great energy and well-studied mania into the quickly emerging leadership of the patients.
All the speaking parts in the show are very well drawn and defined without exception. Even the non-speaking parts are well played. Almost all the American accents are flawless. The mannerisms of the mad, though perhaps outdated now in terms of representing those with mental ill-health, are a feat of acting and physical performance.

Tamsin Reeve and Paul Bowles: “Performances which would grace the professional stage,” according to our Bella
The set uses the depth of the stage well to present claustrophobia of confinement, the soullessness of corridors and institutionalised colours.
The side lighting of the set and separately the brooding above lighting of Chief Bromden are expertly done.

The show is powerfully presented to allow for much post-performance thought about power, control, hopelessness, male weaknesses, mental ill-health and morbidity.
This is a production worth more than the less than full Trinity School Mitre Theatre. The show runs through till Saturday, though I am told that while tickets are available on the door tonight and tomorrow, prompt online booking is advised for Saturday’s finale performance.
Bearing in mind the copious consumption of cigarettes on stage, the instructions in the programme about smoking being prohibited throughout the school seem a bit superfluous.


Bella Bartok       Inside Croydon     April 2014      Link to review on their website HERE


From the unpublished Croydon Advertiser review..........................

Such was the powerful ability of the Mitre Players cast that the audience were spellbound throughout. A pin, dropped, would have been heard.

The set of the day room in a ward of an American state mental hospital won accolades on its own - designed by Paul Bowles, it gave the actors a totally realistic representation of the required security, whether they were on the medical staff or  an inmate.

Wardrobe mistress Anna Warnock had sourced ideal costumes, all adding to the mental hospital image and Mary Holton’s props brought in more realism. The resigned air conjured up by the shuffling inmates is exploded by the incarceration of Randle P. McMurphy who, aiming to liven up the ingrained regime battles against Nurse Ratched who is so authoritatively in charge. Paul Bowles epitomised the rebelliousness of the role bringing out understated emotions carefully when the script required. As his nemesis, Nurse Ratched, who exerted such power over the ward, Tamsin Reeve showed a sinister calm authority as she battled with Randle’s challenge of her control.

The ward inmates were no less impressive with their characterisations. Paul Grace as the immature, maternally-dominated young man Billy Bibbit, Paul Cohen as Cheswick with a one-track mind, Paul Falconer as Dale Harding, President of the Patients’ Council who initially resents, then advises Randle and Owen Moore as Ruckley who suffered a botched lobotomy.  Jolyon Roberts is Scanlon who, like Randle is a committed rather than voluntary patient   Ian Brown is the imaginative Martini, seeing things which aren’t there and Peter Davis is the impressive Chief Bromden whose feigned inability to hear or speak is such a key part of the story.

There is back-up for Nurse Ratched from Nurse Flinn, with Eve Simpson as the nervous carer. Fraser Macdonald’s Dr Spivey vacillated between his own assertiveness and kowtowing to Nurse Ratched’s inveigling.

Beci Sageman made a tarty, chirpy Candy Starr whose canoodling with Billy was so charmingly done and Megan McMahon as Sandra, in cahoots with Candy in the party scene, added more jollity.

Medical Aides Warren and Williams were Simon Kelly and Peter Bramwell, with Aide Turkle played by Dave Price who directed this impressive production with  ability and understanding, creating a show which was dramatic in the truest sense of the word.


Theo Spring    Croydon Advertiser     April 2014.