One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Yesterday was a good day. By some providential coincidences, I got to be part of a group of four to watch the play “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” based on the book of the same name by Ken Kesey.
There’s also a movie of the same name, made in 1975. So for some, there was a reference to compare it with. Thankfully, I have neither seen the movie nor read the book, so I went with no expectations.
      For the uninitiated, it’s the story of a mental institution whose chief administrator is Nurse Ratched. There are several patients with different kinds of mental problems, and with different degrees of severity. Most of them appear to be more fearful rather than having anything seriously wrong in their brains. The nurse keeps the ward in order by strict rules and conducts group therapy sessions where every patient is asked to open up about the problem they suffer from. Sometimes, electroshock therapy is also used when the patients become somewhat overexcited.
          However, one day a new patient comes in – McMurphy who immediately sees that there’s something quite not right. It’s not clear whether he really has any illness or he is just feigning it to avoid imprisonment for a crime. He becomes the leader of the group of patients there, gambles with them and tries to make all of them overcome their fears. The battle of will ensues between him and Nurse Ratched. One day, he goes overboard by sneaking in two prostitutes into the ward and getting them to bring alcohol, which then results in a revelry that leaves everyone senseless by morning. One of the patients who is very sensitive about what his mother would think of him, commits suicide, out of shame when he is reprimanded by the nurse. This makes McMurphy very angry and he tries to kill the nurse. For that, he is confined and later the other patients find he’s had had a lobotomy. This makes one of the patients very moved and he decides to end the life of McMurphy rather than see him live like a vegetable. Thereafter, he runs away from the institution and the story ends.
           Now, we come to the portrayal on the stage. The director of the play was Arundhati Raja and the location was Jagriti theater in Whitefield. I liked the actors performing the lead roles – that of McMurphy and Nurse Ratched. The other actors were good too – one of them who was supposed to be hallucinating, made me a bit uncomfortable by seeing in my direction every time while attempting to see unseen people! All the other actors also did quite a good job. The props were used nicely. The dialogues were delivered very clearly.
            Interesting to note here is that this was the first play out of all that I’ve seen, that had more than two characters. The last two that I’d seen were Tumhaari Amrita with two characters and Bikhre Bimb with one character. More actors implies coordination and I think it was properly handled by the actors and the director. After the play was over and everyone was taking the curtain call, the director also brought on stage two people who’d played the two protagonists many years back when she’d directed this play for the first time. All in all, an evening well-spent. I hope to see a few more plays this year – will keep an eye on the schedule. It’s going to be running in Jagriti theater for a few more days, so if you like watching plays, it would be a good opportunity.

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