Hitchcock Blonde’s Terry Johnson has stepped in as a last-minute replacement for Guy Masterson, who last week dramatically quit as the director of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (See News, 23 Jul 2004). The revival, which stars Hollywood’s Christian Slater, opens at the Edinburgh Festival next month ahead of a transfer on 7 September 2004 (previews from 3 September) to the West End’s Gielgud Theatre (See News, 21 Jul 2004).

In addition to his Whatsonstage.com Award-winning Hitchcock Blonde, which he wrote and directed at the Royal Court and in the West End, playwright-director Johnson’s many other stage credits include The Graduate, Dead Funny, Hysteria and Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick. Amongst his additional directing credits are The Memory of Water (Hampstead/West End) and The Libertine (with John Malkovich in Chicago).

The withdrawal of Masterson, who is also credited as a co-producer on One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, was officially confirmed on Friday. In a statement, he explained: “For reasons of a personal nature and the stress induced by such, coupled with the highly complex and demanding nature of this production, I have had to withdraw as director. I am extremely proud of putting this superb company together. I have total belief that this production will be beautifully realised with a fantastic, ground-breaking performance from Christian Slater as RP McMurphy, for whom this part might well have been written. I wish all my lads well on the rest of this odyssey.”

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest has a limited run, from 6 to 30 August 2004, at the Edinburgh Fringe before transferring to the West End’s Gielgud Theatre on 7 September, following previews from 3 September (See News, 21 Jul 2004). Dale Wasserman’s play, adapted from Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel, is set in a mental institution where a showdown between Nurse Ratched and rebel newcomer Randle P McMurphy divides the other patients.

Slater is joined in the Cuckoo's Nest cast by Frances Barber (Tales from the Vienna Woods, Closer, Closer to Heaven, Insignificance) as Nurse Ratched, Mackenzie Crook (The Pirates of the Caribbean, TV's The Office) as Billy Bibbitt (pictured with Slater) and Adrian Hood as Chief Bromden, as well as five of the cast of comics from Masterson’s Edinburgh Fringe 2003 production of Twelve Angry Men - Owen O'Neill, Ian Coppinger, Dave Johns, Gavin Robertson and Phil Nichol.

- by Terri Paddock