One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Ken Kessey

Fourth Monkey

theSpace on Niddrie Street

From 01 August 2013 to 24 August 2013

Rating: *****

Review by Liam Blain

As Fringe shows go there is not one nearly as perfect as this quirky but gripping retelling of Ken Kessey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

A clinical impression is created by the sterile, white set and mechanical soundtrack as soon as you set foot into the venue, establishing an eerie, blank canvas from which Fourth Monkey tells its captivating tale.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is centred around the daily goings on in an Oregon Psychiatric Hospital. The chemistry between the patients and the nurses turns to boiling point as R P McMurphy is incarcerated in the asylum due to her lust for men and sexual deviances that have put a court order on her incarceration.

As the struggle for power between the forceful patient and the scrupulous Nurse Ratchett reaches a head, it really is a competition of minds, as the winner in this powerful and hard-hitting thriller is all to play for. The choice to switch genders, making every patient on the ward a woman (including McMurphy), creates a whole new level to the well-known story as the audience is not only left questioning the model of society but just how much gender defines the person you become.

Although at times confusing, should you relate this adaptation to the original novel, the changes and abridgement create a fantastic standalone piece that hosts a number of interesting questions.

The acting is captivating from the very first word uttered, with every performer encapsulating the part they have been handed, down to the smallest mannerism. The mix of accents creates an even more diverse feeling within this micro-society, and the ever-changing power struggle is engrossing.

There is very little to fault in this fascinating emotional journey that has the audience on the edges of their seats for the whole performance.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest runs until 24 August at theSpace on Niddrie Street.