Last night, November 13, 2014, the Robert E. Lee High School Drama Department presented a very unconventional version of a very popular play, directed by Shannon Lynch. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is the disturbing tale of a group of patients inhabiting an insane asylum. It is based on some of the real-life experiences of Ken Kesey during his work as a night-time orderly at a mental health facility.
Due to a mostly female cast this particular production has undergone some gender reversals.It is very different to see because the two main characters who are pitted against each other and whose rivalry drives the conflict of the show are reversed. R.P. McMurphy, the new inmate who enters the asylum when the story begins and who is traditionally a man, is played by Ellie Milewski as a female version of the character.
Likewise, the controlling Nurse Ratched, usually a woman, is played by a man-Peter Block, giving the character an entirely different aura. These changes give a completely fresh and new take on the show because it completely alters the relationship between these rivals. The differences, however, were enjoyable because both Ellie Milewski and Peter Block were committed to the development of their characters and the story’s mature themes. Block showed how his character was cold and calculating throughout the whole show. Milewski showed her character’s rebellious attitude, but also her development and change of how she begins to give in towards the end.
It was not only the leads who supported this great show. Everyone on the cast enhanced the story’s effectiveness. Phanida Langer drew the biggest emotional reaction with her performance of the character Bobby, a patient with a terrible stutter who is very influenced by McMurphy’s presence in the asylum. Adrianna McCoy took on the pivotal role of Chief Bromden, the patient who had been there the longest and whom everyone considered to be deaf and dumb. McCoy made an impressive performance of the character’s ominous monologues throughout the show and served their purpose of showing the audience the horrors that take place behind the scenes in the asylum.
A key element in making McCoy’s monologues so effective was the lighting changes. The lighting design by Katy Mayo and the tech crew did a good job of adding to the energy of each scene. This was especially noticeable and effective in a scene where McMurphy receives shock therapy. The set by Allyson Felixlso added to the enjoyment of the show, being very detailed and professional.
Attend and experience life in the asylum in this powerful production at Robert E. Lee High School.
Running Time: two and a half hours, and one intermission.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest plays tonight-Friday, November 14th at 7 PM and and tomorrow, Saturday November 15th, at 7 PM at Robert E. Lee High School-6540 Franconia Road, in Springfield, VA. For tickets, purchase them at the door.
Allison Fantz is a senior at Robert E. Lee High School and attended the drama department’s performance on Thursday November 13, 2014. She is currently the lead critic of the Cappies team at Lee and has been a member of the team for three years.