The 99-Seat Beat: An immersive stage adaptation of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’

Eduardo Fernandez-Baumann, left, and Mick Torres stars in the After Hours Theatre Company’s production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” at the Six01 Studio in Burbank.
(KJ Knies)

This week's picks from L.A.'s small-theater scene: After Hours Theatre Company's “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Skylight Theatre's Iran-set “Hostage,” IAMA's “Cult of Love” and Theatre 40's “Mr. Pym Passes By.”

An immersive ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’

The essentials: Dale Wasserman’s theatrical adaptation of Ken Kesey’s classic novel pits rebellious psychiatric hospital patient Randle Patrick McMurphy, symbolizing joyful individualism, against authoritarian head nurse Nurse Ratched, who epitomizes the powers of soulless bureaucracy. Guess who wins?

Why this? Director Jonathan Muñoz-Proulx and producer Graham Wetterhahn’s “hybrid immersive” production has a pre-show in which the audience mingles with the “inmates.” For a premium ticket price, “acute patients” sit onstage and interact with the characters during the performance, while “chronic patients” occupy more traditional theatrical seating. Wetterhahn hopes that the production “will appeal to new audiences that might not typically choose to go see a play.”

Details: After Hours Theatre Company production at Six01 Studio, 630 S. Flower St., Burbank. 8 p.m. Thurdays, 9 p.m. Fridays, 8 p.m. Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays, through July 1. No performances May 17 or June 23. $55-$75.

The company of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." KJ Knies

‘Hostage’ at the Skylight

The essentials: Set in 1979 at the height of the Iran hostage crisis, Michelle Kholos Brooks’ new play centers on a Midwestern mother who travels to Iran to lobby for her Marine son’s release and returns home to be perceived as a traitor and suspected foreign spy.

Why this? Based on real-life characters, Brooks’ well-balanced, politically fraught work gauges Middle Eastern extremism at a historic juncture. Veteran director Elina de Santos was drawn to the ferocity of the mother, whose courage forms the play’s thematic thrust.

Details: Skylight Theatre, 1816½ N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles. 8:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, 8 p.m. Mondays; ends June 24. $15-$39.99. (213) 761-7061 or (866) 811-4111,

Satiar Pourvasei, Jack Clinton, Tracie Lockwood, Zachary Grant, Christopher Hoffman and Vaneh Assadourian in "Hostage." Ed Krieger

‘Cult of Love’ in Atwater Village

The essentials: “Cult of Love” is the final installment in Leslye Headland’s “Seven Deadly Plays” cycle. It treats the deadly sin of pride as it pertains to the overachieving, staunchly religious Dahl family, whose members gather for a Christmas celebration that segues from the merry to the merciless.

Why this? Written over about 10 years, Headland’s series helped to launch the prestigious IAMA company, now in its 10th anniversary season. Her previous plays such as “Bachelorette” (gluttony) and “Assistance” (greed) featured richly flawed characters distinguished by their common lack of empathy. If anything like her past efforts, “Cult” should be strike a chord between the appalling and the hilarious.

Details: Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., Los Angeles. 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays; ends June 24. $35. (323) 380-8843,

The company of IAMA's "Cult of Love" Dean Cechvala

‘Mr. Pym Passes By’ at Theatre 40

The essentials: First produced nearly 100 years ago, this play by A.A. Milne (of Winne-the-Pooh fame) concerns a free-spirited woman whose stuffy second husband is floored to learn that his wife’s ne’er-do-well first spouse may still be alive. What may have seemed scandalous at the time is unlikely to rankle contemporary sensibilities, but Milne’s drawing room comedy is a sweet window into a gentler era, complete with a sturdy subplot about young lovers separated by the conventions of the day.

Why this? Director Jules Aaron is an award-winning veteran who said he that hopes Milne’s “charming bon bon of a play,” relocated for this production from Buckinghamshire to Connecticut, will shed a “wistful shaft of light” in dark times.

Details: Theatre 40, Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Drive, Beverly Hills. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; ends June 17. $30. (310) 364-0535,

Roslyn Cohn and Jeffrey Winner in "Mr. Pim Passes By" at Theatre 40. Ed Krieger

The 99-Seat Beat appears every Friday. Our reviewers shortlist offerings with an emphasis on smaller venues. Some (but not all) recommendations are shows we've seen; other picks are based on the track record of the company, playwright, director or cast. Comprehensive theater listings are posted every Sunday at

See all of our latest arts news and reviews at


Wearing a 'Red Speedo,' Lucas Hnath goes swimming with sharks

'Native Son': Antaeus gives new voice to Richard Wright's questions

Last week on the 99-Seat Beat