Tonight’s a night to drink some wine post-show…..I spent a long ride home feeling affected, moved and slightly haunted by tonight performance of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” at Oshawa Little Theatre.
I’ll start by saying that as an ensemble of actors, they have been the best group I have seen in a long time. So in sync with each other, so aware of each other’s motives and moves, and so ready and up for anything that their scene partner(s) would throw at them. I honestly wish I could talk about each and every one of the actors up on the stage as each of them brought individuality, strength and a wonderful definition of who their character was.
Alas, there is only so much you will all read. So let me get to it and start things off with Spencer Chaisson as the pathetically neurotic and lovable, Billy Bibbit. You can’t not love this character. He is raw and so vulnerable and the final scene he does is heart-wrenching. I wanted to come up on stage and give him a huge hug! Spencer was in character all the time. Like ALL…..THE…. TIME!! If you are going to play a person in a mental institution, then you have got to buy into your “thing” and work it to the bitter end. When the scene was not focused on him, it didn’t matter. Spencer was playing with his lighter obsessively, twitching, shaking and doing all the specific little things that made him Billy. He was mesmerizing to watch.
I’ve heard of this play, but never seen it, yet I know the name Nurse Ratched somehow… Is this a psychotic reference I am unaware of? At first glance, Barbara Clifford (who plays the daring head Nurse) comes across as concerned, slightly neurotic and type-A, but mostly dedicated to her job. Then there was a distinct moment when Barbara turned on her period white heels and glared downstage that I thought to myself, “You know what? Not so much…. she as insane as the rest of them!”. The parallel between the “insane” characters and the “not insane” characters is so interesting. What separates one from the other? Barbara led the audience down a path to discover that parallel and she’s the reason that the lobby post-show was pretty much silent. What a journey for an actor to go on each night, and I must say that Barbara takes that journey on with amazing dedication and deliberation.
The energy of this play comes from a character named Randle P. McMurphy, portrayed by the wonderful actor, Kelly Hoare. What a role to do night after night. So much enthusiasm, liveliness and piss ‘n’ vinegar is needed and Kelly brings it all in spades. His character is given the dialogue that pretty much drives each scene and Kelly takes on this challenge and runs home with it. His character’s constant perseverance, as stubborn as it may be, is what pushes each of the other characters to take on new adventures and challenges throughout the play. He brings out a soft, hidden side of the character in his scenes with Chief Bromden and demonstrates how quickly you need to be able to transform as a actor.
ANOTHER’S NOTION WITH KATHRYN FRASER
I thought tonight’s performance was captivating and chilling. Set Designer, Melanie Baker, created a fantastic institution which included minimal and subtle colours. These colours contrasted the dynamic and bright personalities of the many patients in the ward. Despite the dark tone of the show, much needed comedic moments shone through and entranced the audience. Carey Nicholson’s direction elevated the individual talent of the actors and helped unite the cast and their relationships. The emotions that ran high throughout the show shifted and blended as characters developed. I applaud your talent Carey, in guiding and directing these seasoned actors and actresses. The entire cast delivered a vivid and memorable show that will continue to mesmerize audiences for the rest of their run.
- To Tom Lynch for his haunting portrayal of Chief Bromden. Your strength as an actor shines through in Act 1 as you literally act your way through your mute scenes.
- To Melanie Baker for a stellar set design. It was exactly how I would envision it to be and then it moved and became so much more!
- To Craig Martin for this strong portrayal of Dale Harding, the president of the patient’s committee and the patient with the over-active tear ducts. 🙂
- To Carey Nicholson for her stupendous direction of this challenging play. I know Kathryn already mentioned you above, but I couldn’t go without saying how absolutely wonderful this show was, under your intricate, precise direction.
This is a good one guys, and I want you all to head out to Oshawa Little Theatre to see their production of “On Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. It runs February 1-17 and tickets are available at www.oshawalittletheatre.com. Congrats to all involved!
Photography by Raph Nogal