There was a glorious sense of anticipation at Garter Lane Arts Centre, for Gary Power Productions play debut with the iconic One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. People sensed they were in at the start at a new company, full of optimism, with great theatre to be made and the generous goodwill of one of the finest casts ever assembled for a big-ask production, in Waterford.
By the interval, there were ripples of fun, entertainment and perhaps a little too much emphasis on the comedic and ironic aspects but with two comedy legends like Davy Sutton and Conor Halpin playing significant roles, this could be expected and it was the way the audience reacted, more than any upstaging or directorial decisions, that created this impact.
The standing ovation at the tragic end was a how of appreciation, a wild celebration for a production that hit most of the marks and carried the audience along like a rush of chemical substances. The excellent tension achieved by the conflict of authority and anarchy as portrayed so wonderfully by Gretta Rochford, as the measured and quietly menacing Nurse Ratched and an amazing volcanic performance by Michael Quinlan, as the devious rogue McMurphy, was a triumph of theatre.
In a night to remember, Vicky Sheridan played Nurse Flinn, Darren Neeson and Robert Browne played ward aides. Tobie Hickey was a spineless Dr. Spivey, Adam Wallace was Ruckley and Mark Power was Scanlon who wanted to bomb the world. Paul Barry was an imposing Chief Bromden. Jamie Murphy was an impressive Billy
Bibbet, as he vacillated from childlike to adult. Davy Sutton lacked Italian influences as Martini but he brought a crowd-pleasing a crowd-pleasing intensity to the role. Conor Halpin caught well the truculent and cringing emotions of Cheswick.
Paul Dillon was a restrained powerhouse of logicality as Harding and added to his list of memorable characters.
Other roles were filled by Shauna Farrell, Lorraine Dunne, John Kelly and Eamon Kelly.
Sound by Wayne Browne was impressive and integral to the story. Paul Browne lit the functional Paul Barry set.