Theater: Duel in a Snake Pit

One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Dale Wasserman, hinges on a duel in a loony bin, and the play seems almost as disturbed and disturbing as its setting. Ward Nurse Ratched (Joan Tetzel) is a kind of female Fu Manchu with incredibly sweeping authority. If a patient steps out of line, she punishes him with electric shock treatments.

This steely female terror is challenged by Randle McMurphy (Kirk Douglas), a rugged, open-hearted rebel who bristles at rules. McMurphy is classified as a "psychopathic" brawler. He tries to put spunk into the patients and...

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