Ken Kesey’s controversial novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a laudation to the masculine libertarianism integral to the American dream. How then would such a story deal with being translated to a British, predominantly female context? Fourth Monkey’s attempt represents a well staged but fairly basic adaptation of the classic parable of civil disobedience.
For the most part this is a thoroughly enjoyable staging, all of the actors putting in strong, entertaining performances. However, a little more thought could have been input a long way – particularly in terms of the gender swap. For example, Nurse Ratched takes it upon herself to order the patriarchy with incessant ‘hen-pecking’. Yet more could’ve been made of the fact that all the while a male doctor silently (even unwittingly) reserves the power of veto. Furthermore, a year away from the referendum a Scottish McMurphy caught in a Catch-22 by an English Ratched offers ample provender for commentary. Instead, the most we get as regards to nationality awareness is a superficial exchange of the World Series for the FA Cup. Indeed, that’s been Fourth Monkey’s problem this year, seemingly having opted for surface elegance at the expense of a chance for some real mischief.