One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest play to open at Ilford’s Kenneth More Theatre

Cuckoo's Nest is directed by Brenda Brackley, who directed the first community show at the Kenneth M

Cuckoo's Nest is directed by Brenda Brackley, who directed the first community show at the Kenneth More Theatre in 1975. - Credit: Archant

It’s been 40 years since the Kenneth More Theatre opened its doors, so it’s fitting that the director of the first ever local production is set to return.

Guiding Redbridge Theatre Company through their production of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Brenda Brackley says she has lost count of how many plays she has overseen over the past four decades.

Her latest effort is based on the 1962 novel by Ken Kesey, famously made into an Oscar-winning film in 1975.

It takes place in a 1960s mental institute, where charming rogue RP McMurphy has landed himself a short sentence rather than a prison term.

Expecting an easy ride, he soon clashes with the evil Nurse Ratched - who gives her patients a “rough deal”, says Brenda.


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“It’s a brilliant play,” she beams. “It’s strong and, though not totally full of laughs, there are a few moments that will make audiences chuckle.”

The theatre has changed since Brenda’s debut production, Hayfever, in January 1975 - which followed The Beggar’s Opera, the first professional production.

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“In the first year our group did 12 productions - one a month,” explains Brenda. “We had no children, we were young, and we rehearsed every night of the week. My husband, Michael, and I have been involved ever since.

“We used to get audiences between 70 to 90 per cent, but theatres everywhere are struggling at the moment and now we’re lucky to even get 30 per cent.”

Her experience working on hundreds of plays means Brenda is a little more picky about what productions she gets involved with these days.

“It has to be a really great play to get me interested,” she says. “This one caught my eye and has a big cast of 18 - which is tough to get together these days.

“I thought to myself, ‘I’d like to have a go at this’.”

The play runs for three nights, from February 27. Tickets for the shows, which start at 7.30pm and 3pm on Saturday, cost £10 - or £8 for club members.

To book, call the box office on 020 8553 4466, or visit kmtheatre.co.uk.

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