(Actors Misty Habib as a nurses aide, Allison Still as Nurse Ratched, Kyle C. Haight as Randle P. McMurphy, and Khalid Baksh as Chief Bromden performing during Cardinal Music Productions presentation of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest at The Green Room Theatre inside E.J. Lajeunesse on December 1, 2019. Photo by Eric Bonnici / Eyes On Windsor.)
Iconoclast Randle Patrick McMurphy is a fellow who likes to eke out the best in situations to his favour. It is a characteristic which usually can cause the most good for him but not much for society. Faced with jail time for petty crimes he elects to take Option B, time in a mental institution. There is nothing wrong with him mentally as evidenced by his quickly turning the place into an impromptu gaming house in which he seems the perennial winner. This, of course, certainly puts him at odds with those who run the institution.
Therein is the premise of what is a most delightful romp into semi-nonsense orchestrated by Kyle C. Haight in the lead role as the indefatigable outlier McMurphy in Cardinal Music Productions exceptional presentation of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
Adapted from Ken Kessey’s novel, scriptwriter Dale Wasserman’s applaudable efforts to bring the book to the stage, in the 1960s, earned him a Tony Award for Dramatic Comedy. Cardinal Production’s Director Niki Richardson certainly should be in line for any number of awards for her precise execution of Wasserman’s script.
One of her biggest challenges is to mix the exuberant Haight, who is never off his game, with a cast of characters who must act in a dumbed-downed manner as befits their situations. The inmates in the asylum are basically harmless, to a point. Which is why Mac, as they call him, can easily mold their actions to follow his own dreams.
Lording over it all is the strict, authoritarian Nurse Ratched, played brilliantly with a total absence of emotion and humanity by Allison Still. She brings to the role all the zest of the assembly instructions found in the boxes of IKEA products and never finds time to be amused with anything. Obviously, she and Mac don’t see eye-to-eye on most things but her plan to employ shock therapy to revise his outlook doesn’t garner support from mild mannered Dr. Spivey. Alex C. Alejandria nicely plays the doctor as her foil by exhibiting a certain logical warmth.
Among the patients, Dale Harding is the sharpest tack in the ward. John Riehl successfully portrays him as a thoughtful man who could probably have enough logic to sell life insurance. He does have some of the most subtle lines describing the place as a “madhouse full of psychopaths.” Admittedly, he exaggerates.
When a staff member offers a “good morning,” he snaps, “Are you sure?”
The rest of the characters all have their own unique troubles with the world, but the most noticeable is Billy Bibbit, the youngest man in the ward. Dylan Dundas tackles the character with great attention to detail, particularly maintaining a stutter which openly manifests Bibbit’s many anxieties.
Mac thinks Bibbit should be outside sowing his wild oats and devises a plan to bring in one of his girlfriends, the up for anything Candy Starr played with due and constant attention to affection by Kerri Galloway. After a mock wedding she and Bibbit head off for the full consummation of the event. It is the least Mac can do.
There are other things Mac does. One is convincing indigenous deaf patient Chief Bromden to vote to make it unanimous to allow the group to watch the world series. Voting is only the start. As the play moves along the Chief commences to talking so is not as deaf as the doctors thought. He just needed motivation.
Throughout the play, set in the common room of the ward with a highly functional set, a number of the actors carry on oblivious to what is happening around them. It is charming to observe how adept they are at living in their own worlds. An equal distraction is their comments when participating in group meetings.
But one of the greatest delights remains Haight’s ability to credibly bring to life the quirky and full of himself Mac. If nothing else, this ability certainly impressed his own mother, Karen Haight, who was in the audience Sunday afternoon. She tells Eyes On Windsor how impressed she is with her son’s practiced ability to jump right into his character and to maintain the charade.
Haight has been building up his acting credentials with roles at playhouses in Windsor, Essex, Kingsville and Leamington and, like his mother says, there is not a moment in which he is not Randle P. McMurphy.
Aside from a delicious script, the real excitement around One Flew Over the Cuckooo’s Nest is the cultured abilities of its cast to enrich the story. Nothing is out of place making it so easy for the audience to simply imagine itself as the proverbial fly on the wall.
It is a must see, if only to watch the human condition and all its variety from the lens of a mental institution.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Directed by Niki Richardson is produced by Joe Cardinal with Stage Manager Misty Habib and Lighting Director Tim Hughes.Written by Dale Wasserman, adapted from the novel by Ken Kesse, the final performances play take place at The Green Room Theatre inside E.J. Lajeunesse on December 6 and 7 at 8pm and December 8 at 2pm.
For mor information visit One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest presented by Cardinal Music Productions on the Eyes On Windsor Events Calendar.
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.