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June 05, 1984 - Image 8

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Michigan Daily, 1984-06-05

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ARTS
Tuesday, June 5, 1984

Page 8

The Michigan Daily

The wretched Nurse Ratched (Linda Rice) glares at her formidable mental opponent Randall P. McMurphy (Jeff
Smith) in the Performance Network's languid production of Ken Kesey's 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.'

F altering
By Larry Dean
ONE FLEW Over the Cuckoo's Nest is one of the all-
time great American novels. You personally may not
agree, but its universality, salience, and continued appeal
have proven that it's place in our culture is assured. That's
why the Performance Network's production of Dale
Wasserman's Cuckoo's Nest adaptation is such a disappoin-
tment.
Author Ken Kesey is one of the few contemporary
novelists-like Joseph Heller and Thomas Pynchon, to name
two others-who takes time with his writing, and doesn't
churn out a book-per-year. His craftsmanship and sensitivity
show in Cuckoo's Nest, and in its shelfmate, Sometimes A
Great Notion.
There is a structure and emotional depth to Kesey's writing
that is difficult-if not near impossible-to translate to other
mediums. Milos Foreman's : film adaptation swept the 1975
Oscars, and for good reason-the film (and especially Jack
Nicholson's performance as the braggart protagonist, R. P.
McMurphy) succeeded, in most ways, in bringing Cuckoo's
Nest to silver-screened life.
On stage, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is no very dif-
ferent from its celluloid companion. The story is the same:
McMurphy (Jeff Smith) has the choice of either going to jail,
or else allowing himself to be committed to a mental hospital.
A fun-loving, and, to say the least, earthy character, McMur-
phy has spent his life in and out of jails for incidents of minor
brawling and social deviancy; but this time the state has

Cuckoo
him on the charge of statutory rape of a 15 year old ("She told
me she was 17, and she was plenty willin'!" protests McMur-
phy)
Choosing what he believes will be an easy sentence in the
mental hospital, McMurphy saunters in and immediately
begins to take over. His flagrant defiance of the iron-handed
rule head nurse Ratched (Linda Rice) has over the other
"acutes" wins him their respect, and the sheer exhuberent
anarchy of his presence helps to soothe the sanitized in-
stitutionalization that has furthered the patients' illnesses,
rather than helped them.
The main conflict in Cuckoo's Nest comes when McMurphy
and Ratched's wills clash. There is also a lot of underlying
sexual tension between them, which is supposed to add fuel to
the fire.
Director Raymond Masters doesn't seem to know what to
do with either his actors or the script. This version of
Cuckoo's Nest is staged so stagnantly, and with so many dead
spots in the "action" (meaning merely the occurrences in the
play), that no real tension develops. Actors are constantly
upstaging one-another, and many of them seem confused, as
if they have no reason for being on stage. This conclusion
only alientes the audience, when they should be deeply-and
emotionally-involved.
The actors also suffer under a weak directorial hand. As
McMurphy, Smith punctuates his stiff lines with bursts of
forced laughter, and animates his character with perfun-
ctionary gestures. Although he "looks" the part, he has little
understanding of what McMurphy's all about.
See CUCKOO, Page 10

Fahey
strums up
a storm
By Andy Weine
T HE CROWD that filled the Ark
Saturday night numbered well over
capacity. Knee-to-knee on chairs and
floor cushions, captivated folk fans
listened to over an hour of virtuoso per-
formance by John Fahey.
From the moment he sat down on
stage, Fahey never gave the audience a
break, holding their attention for over
an hour. Many of his pieces were over
ten minutes long. Just when notes
dwindled and listeners expected the end
of a song, Fahey would branch off on a
new melody, and another movement
would proceed.
Fahey himself mumbled less than
twenty or thirty words the whole time,
and none of his music had vocals. Hut
what he lacked in words orvcharisma,
he more than made up for in playing.
His music draws upon 'several dif-
ferent influences. His beginning pieces
had a Scottish or Irish tint to them.
Others had the flavor of blues and
ragtime, and some songs sounded
almost bluegrass. Somewhere in bet-
ween these styles, Fahey has developed
a style of his own, a style that is usually
fast-paced, light, happy, and rambling.
Fahey did more picking than strum-
ming. His melodies were complex, of-
ten having several musical motives or
quickly changing from one theme to
another. He also made some exotic
sounds with a metal slider, using it to
play the oddest variation of "Silent
Night" ever heard.
The rainstorm played a significant
role in Fahey's performance, too. With
all its doors open, the Ark reverberated
to toe rumbling thunder that often
complemented Fahey's music. (In one
of his earlier albums, he uses rain and
thunder.) Once, just after a song dwin-
dled away with the last soft notes, a
well-time clap of thunder, filled the
silence. The smaller thunder of the
audience's applause followed.
Ragtime guitarist Ray Kamalay
warmed up the audience with some
amusing blues, including a song about a
comet that missed its pass by Earth. His
music contrasted well with Fahey's; it
gave the concert a balance of style,
length, and vocals over instrumentals

0

0

. --

A selection of campusfilm highlights
The Man Who Loved Women (Fran-
cois Truffaut, 1977)
No, no, no. This isn't the muddled,
insipid remake starring Burt
Reynolds. This is, however, the won-
derful Truffaut classic about a man
who simply loves women-in every
way, shape and form. (Wednesday,
June 6; Michigan Theater, 7:30)
Shampoo (Hal Ashby, 1975)
A classic Warren Beatty vehicle in
which our hero portrays a Beverly
Hills hairdresser who will do anything
to keep his customers happy. Those
who are kept happy include Goldie
Hawn, Julie Christie and Carrie
Fisher (in her pre-Princess Leia

days). (Thursday, June 7; Michigan
Theater, 7:30).
The Year of Living Dangerously
(Peter Weir, 1983)
Campus
films
An intriguing film not to be
missed by fans of either director Weir
(Gallipoli, Picnic at Hanging Rock),
Mel Gibson (The Bounty, Gallipoli) or
Sigourney Waever (Alien, Eyewit-
ness). Gibson plays a reporter

covering the Indonesian rebellion of
1965 who views the poverty and op-
pression of the war-torn country. Lin-
da Hunt gives an Oscar-winning per-
formance as his photographer-friend
Billy Kwan. (Friday, June 8; MLB 4,
7:30 & 9:40)
The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Ker-
shner, 1980)
For all you Star Wars junkies who
need that summertime fix, here's
your chance. The second installment
in the trilogy, Empire introduces us to
Yoda, that loveable Jedi master.
(Friday, June8; MLB3, 7:30 & 9:45).
Young Frankenstein (Mel Brooks,
1975)
One of Mel's funniest films parodies

not-so-modern medical science and
one doctor-who shall remain
nameless-who abuses his surgical
skills. Gene Wilder is the mad doctor,
Peter Boyle is the mad monster.
(Saturday, June 9; MLB 4, 9:15)
Godfather I & II (Frances Ford Cop-
pola, 1972 & 1975)
Two of the most powerful motion
pictures ever made deal with the
Mafia underworld-looking at both its
human and brutal aspects. With won-
derful performances by Al Pacino,
Marlon Brando, and Robert DeNiro.
(Saturday, June 8; Michigan Theater,
6:30 & 9:35).

"

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