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NRT Presents: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

No Refund Theatre’s latest production offers the organization’s take on a literary classic: Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

Set in 1963, the narrative focuses on convict Randall Patrick McMurphy, or Mac, who is serving a sentence for battery, several assaults, and a statutory rape he committed at a labor camp in Oregon. With months left in his sentence, he finds himself transferring into a psychiatric hospital. 

The play begins with “Chief” Bromden, a patient who claims to be deaf and blind, graphically describing the torture he has been forced to watch fellow patients endure through his time in the facility. By breaking the fourth wall so early in the production, this otherwise silent character forms a connection with the audience.

Mac makes a bold entrance and immediately breaks the facility’s quiet air with aggressive and vulgar comments. He attempts to befriend the other patients, but further alienates himself with his brazen disrespect for authority.

Mac shows no remorse for his crimes — he brags about them in a group therapy session in an attempt to upset head nurse Mildred Ratched. Nurse Ratched sees through Mac’s scheme, and turns the focus of the session toward mocking stuttering, Billy Bibbit’s sexuality, and impotence. 

The mocking eventually crosses a line, and Mac stands up for Bibbit in an attempt make him feel better about the “pecking party.” But Mac quickly realizes that the patients are brainwashed into believing that the emotional and physical abuse they endure is in their best interest.

Mac vows to unravel Nurse Ratched’s iron fist attitude in one week using the same tactics he used to shirk work at the labor camp.

He uses the other patients as pawns while also trying to win their independence, sparing no effort to make himself stand out and ruffle feathers.

With the depth and complexity of the plot, there is a lot to be learned from Mac’s efforts to help other patients stand up for themselves. 

“This play is all about individuality and the idea that people are taught to conform to society, and sometimes going against the grain is a good thing,” director Jordan Santillo said.

Santillo has worked with NRT for four years, but “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is her first experience as a director. 

“Getting 14 people in the same room at the same time is ridiculous, and we didn’t have everyone for a full run until [this dress rehersal] because of everyone’s classes,” Santillo said. 

NRT will perform “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” at 8 p.m. Thursday, November 29 through Saturday, December 1 in 111 Forum.

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About the Author

Annmarie Sorensen

Annmarie's brain is comprised of quotes from The Office, Harry Potter, and Gilmore Girls. She lives off of Amy's GF Mac n Cheese because she has Celiac disease. She enjoys long walks to the fridge, the deli in Findlay Commons, and to her bed after her 9am. You can follow her on Twitter @aannmarieeee for additional political commentary and email her at [email protected]

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