One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest was a book, then a play, then a film with Jack Nicholson, and since 2006 it’s been a hip-hop show renamed Insane In The Brain by the streetdance troupe Bounce. It’s one of several hip-hop dance-dramas in London this autumn and despite some strong routines, it’s probably the least good show.
The reason is that the Cuckoo’s Nest story is a unflinching indictment of mental health care, and the performers in Bounce lack the acting ability and dramatic depth to even scratch the surface of its serious themes. Their version is not even a primer for the young who might benefit from insights into mental institutions in a less disturbing form than the film.
Instead the performers play it mostly for laughs, and when seriousness is required they appear trite and at times lacking in taste. For example, in the early group therapy scene, one performer pretends to be a little girl, wetting her pants and sucking her hair. It is a comically bad depiction of a regressed female, and produced titters of embarrassment in the audience.
Having said all that, some of the dance routines were great fun, with the ‘Courtyard’ and ‘Party’ scenes especially good and ‘Billy’s Dream’ genuinely funny. All the performers were able, although the two guards (Joe Jobe and Filmon Michael) and Chief Bromden (Daniel Koivunen) and Billy Bibbit (Robert Malmborg) stood out.
The spoof of Fame and Maniac was very funny, although I’m not sure what it’s got to do with Cuckoo’s Nest. Ditto the filmed sequence of the dancers as Edwardian toffs and robbers, which will have you punching the air.