Live theatre. There’s nothing quite like it to really freak you out. Will it involve embarrassing improv? Will it be bad community theatre? Will it involve uncomfortable nudity from acquaintances and/or Reg Livermore or Rhonda Burchmore? All my worries were immediately put at ease, as Human Sacrifice Theatre’s moving rendition of ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ at Chapel off Chapel was a wonderfully executed piece of gritty drama. Here’s the down low from Ruby Assembly’s night at the theatre.

In desert flower Arabella Ramsay on a balmy summer night on Chapel Street.

We were chuffed to be invited to the opening night of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ by Fame PR. I hadn’t seen the film since late high school (which is probably around the same time I read the book). I did know that seeing ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ wouldn’t exactly be a gaggle of giggles. It’s some heavy shit, yo. We’re talking themes of mental ill-health, helplessness and hopelessness, medicalised entrapment and a commentary on the worst 1970’s heavily experimental psychiatry project. The HST (Human Sacrifice Theatre) team went all out – upon entering the theatre you’re immediately hit by a nauseating whiff of Dettol. The simple stage is effective, with an enclosed nurses station, institutional furniture and bare hospital surrounds. Having gone on a school camp to the then-only-recently-defunct Beechworth Asylum (AKA Mayday Hills Lunatic Aslyum, now a La Trobe University conference centre – I kid you not) in 1999, the sets really did evoke that scary banality of the mental institution wards.

HST really made me think differently about theatre. Having being a veteran of clumsy high school productions of Chekhov and community theatre versions of Pippin and Hair, I was worried that this would be a clunky version of a difficult play. I hang my head in chardonnay socialist shame and say to you that THIS WAS IN EVERY SENSE A PROFESSIONAL PRODUCTION! The clever take on Chief Bromden (often represented as an American Indian, but in this interpretation re-established as an indigenous person disconnected from his land) and use of voiceovers was immediately haunting. The stand-out performances of the evening came from Mark Diaco (Randle P. McMurphy), Natalia Novikova (Nurse Ratched), Stan Yarramunua (Chief Bromden) and Colin MacPherson (Dale Harding). Although a difficult play ( I won’t ‘spoil’ it for you if you’ve not seen the movie/read the book/viewed the play yet ), there were moments of humour and light in the first act. To book your tickets to see ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ click here. The season runs until the 11th of December, so there’s still time to go and support this energetic production.

Wonderful to bump into some familiar faces too! L-R: Mason, Thom Wilton of Couturing and Sofie Camili of Fame PR.