This hip-hop show may be based on One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, but don't expect too many dramatic moments. The Swedish company Bounce is known for its feelgood hip-hop, packaging street dance into brightly accessible touring shows. Rawness and anger aren't its selling point.
Choreographed by the dancers, Insane in the Brain works through the events of Ken Kesey's novel. It's put into dance terms. When the inmates of the psychiatric hospital start to express themselves, they do it with hip-hop. The oppressive Nurse Ratched, forcing them into rules and routine, tries to teach them ballet.
Hip-hop should be good at rebellion against authority, but when McMurphy, danced by Fredrik "Benke" Rydman, starts defying Nurse Ratched, it's goofy instead of fierce.
The soundtrack drives the action, with hits by Missy Elliott, Dizzee Rascal, Notorious B.I.G. and Cypress Hill. Per A Jonsson's inventive set is a grey institution with space for dancing. The back wall slopes, allowing dancers to bounce off it. In the electroshock sequence, there's hip-hop bungee dancing.
The dancers seem happiest in the most tangential scenes. When the patients sneak out to a cinema, climbing down into the stalls to watch a real screen along with the audience, they see a hip-hop version of a silent movie. On screen, tramp characters do pratfalls and hold a dance battle with the movie's respectable citizens. It provides the best image here, with an Edwardian lady swaggering through street moves.
Then there's the patients' party. Drinking and taking drugs, they launch into an unexpected 1980s revival scene, complete with pastiches of Flashdance and Fame. It's blithely irrelevant, but it's probably where this company had most fun. Bounce's heart is in the cheesier end of showbiz.
The dancing is slick and energetic. The strongest performance comes from guest dancer Teneisha Bonner, who plays Nurse Ratched. She moves boldly, while her solos "in private" do most to suggest the pent-up rage of this theme. The rest of the company skip through the story.
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