facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11
Are you missing theatre as much as we are? Support us now with Theatre Tokens and see your favourite shows when they reopen. #IMissTheatre

Insane In The Brain

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 18 April 2008

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest has been a big success in the West End in recent years with two productions led by Hollywood star Christian Slater. But Slater would be a little out of place in this new adaptation by street dance company Bounce, Insane In The Brain, which gives a hip hop spin (quite literally) to Ken Kesey’s tale of power and madness on a psychiatric ward. Matthew Amer was in the first night audience at the Peacock.

A street dance version of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest; it sounds like a crazy idea. But in the hands of street dance veterans Bounce it makes total sense. While detailed characterisation suffers after the one spoken scene introducing each of the characters, the spirit of the piece flows through the eclectic musical score and the choreography.

Each of the patients has their own condition which is expressed in their movements. Dale Harding’s Obsessive Compulsive tendencies see him using repetitive actions, Martini’s naïve childishness is reflected in exuberant, over-active movements and the silent Chief Bromden becomes wheelchair bound; unable to communicate through dance instead of words.

Guest dancer Teneisha Bonner, playing Nurse Ratched, the controlling power of the ward, performs martial arts-inspired moves with a cruel straight face throughout the show, which is a clever trick when it is obvious the whole cast loves every minute of this high-octane, visually spectacular performance.

The production is packed with unruly, raucous humour that is only fitting for RP McMurphy. The sexually repressed Billy Bibbit dreams of a blow-up doll dancing to the music of Lionel Ritchie, Martini has a dream sequence – memorable for its use of brightly coloured lycra – inspired by Flashdance and Fame, and the patients’ escape from the ward involves the unsuspecting audience and a dance battle set in a silent movie.

There is cleverness too in the score. Ratched’s domination of the patients is expressed through repetitive movements to a ballet score, while McMurphy’s freeing of his fellow inmates’ personalities comes in a sequence using Cypress Hill’s Insane In The Brain and Charles Wright’s Express Yourself.

The pent up anger and frustration seem perfectly matched to the sharp athletic movements of street dance, combining to produce incredible scenes. Electroshock therapy sees three patients harnessed on a near-vertical rake, their erratic movements a reflection of the pain. It is torturous yet exhilarating. A scene of broken sleep patterns uses light to highlight the dancers for a split second mid-action to spectacular effect.

Yet for all the chest-rumbling bass lines, the energetic moves and the show-stopping set pieces, the emotion sucker punch at the end of the story is felt as acutely as ever.

Insane In The Brain plays at the Peacock until 16 March.

MA

Share

Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.