Cuckoo's Nest Comes to Cork - My Family Travels

One night, I was in Cork City picking up a friend from work.  Her boyfriend was telling me about The Everyman Palace, the theatre across from her office.

One night, I was in Cork City picking up a friend from work.  Her boyfriend was telling me about The Everyman Palace, the theatre across from her office.  I had never heard of it and never really been to that side of town to have seen it before, but I made a note of it.  Then, just a few days later, I found a flyer for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." The lonely picture of McMurphy with his basketball — so naive of what he was getting himself into — instantly reminded me of Senior year of high school when I first read the book.  Of course, The Everyman Palace was right there on the flyer too, so I took it as a sign that I needed to check it out. 

Now I've never been a big fan of theatre, well, except maybe once when I was in a "Rumpelstiltskin" play in the third grade, but besides that, I had nothing to do with drama class. I had always assumed that plays were expensive and not worth my time, but with a student rate of only €7, (€27 regular price) I figured it was a bargain and maybe cheaper than going to see any of the crap-tastic movies that are out now.

The theatre itself has a Victorian theme and, although it seems small, from the ground seats, it offers a very intimate experience; with balcony seats included, there is room for 650 people. The auditorium was so classy-looking that I thought that they seriously must have made a mistake when only charging me €7. But we looked around and there we plenty of other student-aged people clad in wrinkly khakis and funky hair colors.  Among the UCC bunch there were families with kids old enough to realize when the actors said a bad word or two, middle-aged women on a night out, and plenty of couples trying a different type of date night.

Along with the price, the actual content played a big part in getting me and my boyfriend into a theatre. The play was performed by The Keegan Theatre, an American group that travels to Ireland every year to perform one American play; then performs an Irish play back in the States.  This year's choice for Ireland was sure to lure me in; I didn't even realize that Kesey's book was a play!  I think we saw the movie one day in English class, after we finished discussing every single theme that Kesey addressed in the book. Besides our class becoming obsessed with anything from the 60's, our local die-hard Laker's fan, Jack Nicholson, was star of the film. Compared to reading "Hamlet" for a month, this was the highlight of our class and probably the only part of high school I actually remember.

Ready to judge this performance based on both the book and the movie, I ended up forgetting everything about what I already knew and enjoying the play. Within the first scene I had already forgotten how everything was going to pan out because I was so entrapped with who was who and what was going to happen next.

Nurse Ratchet was just as evil as ever. The whole night I kept thinking about how she reminded me of my previous manager at the shoe shop that I worked in back in Dublin.  (So glad I never have to see her again!)  The actor who played the Chief was brilliant.  They managed to find a way to keep his small conversations with his Papa, which helped wrap up all of Kesey's main themes.  His role did not, however, overshadow McMurphy's loud performance. He was getting every last nerve of Nurse Ratshet while still giving courage to the rest of the patients.

Overall, the play was a lot better than I had expected.  It made me want to reread the novel and maybe even check out the film just one more time. Either way, I can tell that this one was good. It was definitely better than eating stale popcorn and having surround sound in a dark stadium seated chair while watching the same thing that a billion other people around the globe have already seen.

Now, I'm not saying thatI've destroyed my DVD collection to devote my life to the theatre. I will admit that I'm still in love with movies, especially since the Cork Film Festival is on next week and it's making me want to revive my Netflix account already. But, at least now I know what else is out there, so I might plan my weekend around what the theatre has to offer instead of instantly resorting to the movies, where the gossip behind the scenes is more entertaining most of the time anyway.


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