If you’re looking for an alternative to the holiday entertainment offerings in the Corpus Christi area this season, look no further than the Harbor Playhouse’s side stage. Iridium Productions brings you the revival run of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which opens Saturday, Nov. 30.
The play, which is based on the novel of the same name by Ken Kesey, was written by Dale Wesserman. The original run premiered on Broadway in 1963, and starred Kirk Douglas as Randle Patrick McMurphy. The play follows an assortment of quirky characters in a mental hospital as they live their oppressive lives under the heavy hand of Nurse Ratched. That is, until Randle Patrick McMurphy (played in this production by Andres Elizondo II) arrives at the hospital, antagonizes Nurse Ratched, and upsets the order of things. McMurphy then develops a bond of sorts with the docile half-Native American inmate, who is faking being deaf and mute to avoid a prison sentence, “Chief” Bromden.
“In the book he’s the one (“Chief Bromden) who’s narrating the whole thing, but in the movie he doesn’t say a whole lot. In the play, I have more speaking lines. He’s summarizing from the book, as it is. Basically, it’s supposed to be the way he sees what’s going on in the asylum. He sees the Psych Ward as a robotic, mechanical thing, and how they’re brainwashing the patients. But of course, we all know the end, somebody has to pass away,” said Juan Manuel Perez, who is portraying to role of the “Chief” in the revival run at Harbor Playhouse.
Iridium Productions and Harbor Playhouse had such a successful first run in the show earlier this year, that the producers decided to bring the production back. Armed with a bigger budget, and a new director (Carter Whitmire), the show proves to be one for the books.
“We’ve got an excellent director, and she’s just blown everybody away. Even people who didn’t even want a new director were just phenomenally impressed. We’ve grown as actors, and technicians,” said Micah R. Blaine, portraying Dale Harding in the play.
In the play, Dale Harding is a closeted homosexual in the mid-60’s having trouble finding himself, so his inability to do so has lead him into a very oppressive institution.
“There’s not even any way he can deal with his issues, until the arrival of another character, Randle Patrick McMurphy, and that’s when the story starts to get interesting for everybody.”
Of course what follows the arrival of McMurphy is a storm of chaos. Nurse Ratched does her best to fight against the loss of control as it is, still fighting to keep the order of things.
“She doesn’t like anything that disrupts her system, and when McMurphy comes along, he disrupts it. He literally throws a cog in the machine. It makes big changes for her, and almost makes her lose control,” Lisa Ayala, who plays Nurse Ratched in the production.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is an challenging piece that explores the themes of authority and control. This offering is one that goes against the grain of musical productions and other joyful fair that usually accompanies the holiday season.
“I think it’s really important for people to come out and enjoy it. It is an alternative to ‘A Christmas Carol.’ There are a lot of funny moments; there’s a lot of comic relief, a lot of funny things happen, but just like in life; there’s drama and there’s an underlying happiness. You just have to find it.”
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest opens on the side stage at Harbor Playhouse on Saturday, Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m. It runs through Dec. 22. For show and ticket information, visit www.HarborPlayhouse.com.