Arts and Entertainment

Another one flies over the cuckoo’s nest

McMurphy (Chris Soldevilla) rallies with ward-mate Scanlon (Christopher Martinez) for a vote to change TV time. - Bill Mickelson/What
McMurphy (Chris Soldevilla) rallies with ward-mate Scanlon (Christopher Martinez) for a vote to change TV time.
— image credit: Bill Mickelson/What's Up

Ken Kesey’s immortal characters return to roost at BPA.

The stage is set in the drab hues of institution. The monochromatic mute yellow walls, the cold steel chairs, the spotless oddly octagon-faced nurses’ office, the small-screen TV suspended from the ceiling — it’s all very sterile, an asylum run with clinical precision.

That is, until Randle P. McMurphy shows up.

Played aptly by the carousing Chris Soldevilla, the convicted drifter makes his entrance like a cyclone, sporting denim jeans, a backwards baseball cap and a cigarette behind his ear, giving chase to the hapless orderlies.

“The name’s Randle P. McMurphy, and I am a gamblin’ fool,” Soldevilla says sitting down at the card table, introducing himself to the ward patients who seem taken aback by his brazen defiance.

McMurphy will go on to shake up the ward’s entire society — for good or ill — including mean old Ms. Ratched (played by the naturally authoritative Kim Failla) on a bet, in Ken Kesey’s age-old story “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.”

What sets BPA’s production apart from the many that have come before it — and also what sets the staged version of the story apart from the 1975 Jack Nicholson picture — is that we get to know more than just the iconic characters of McMurphy, Ms. Ratched and the stonewall chief Bromden.

“The movie seemed like just a vehicle for Jack Nicholson,” director Steven Fogell said offhand at dress rehearsal Monday night.

While the spotlight is still squarely centered on McMurphy’s rebellion, as it should be, the hour and 45 minute stage version digs a bit further into the lives of some of the other patients on the ward — some of the characters who give the story its color.

Like Dave Harding (played by the bespectacled Tim Davidson), the voluntarily committed President of the Patients’ Council, who suffers from anxiety and a bitter inferiority complex seemingly spawned by his younger, well-endowed wife. Or Billy Bibbit (Shaun Pearson), a voluntarily committed kid with a stutter, who has checked himself in because he can’t handle the pressures of society emphasized by his speech impediment.

Then there’s the explosives-infatuated Scanlon (played by the wiley Christopher Martinez), the paranoid, hallucinating war vet Mr. Martini (played by Tim Tully) and the near-silent patient Ruckley (played so subtly by Guy Sidora, you might not even know it’s Guy Sidora until the second act).

Atop that colorful backdrop, the power struggle poker game between McMurphy and Ms. Ratched ensues. Until McMurphy finds out that she’s holding his freedom like a pair of aces.

‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ — an extra in BPA’s 2008-2009 season — plays this weekend only with curtains at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday at 200 Madison Ave. N on Bainbridge. For tickets and more info, go to www.bainbridgeperformingarts.org or call the box office at (206) 842-8569.

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