New York | Ends Jun 08

Network (NYC)

From 54 critic and 324 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Great staging, Relevant, Absorbing, Ambitious

About the show

After making its premiere in at the National Theatre in London, the adaptation of the Oscar-winning film comes to Broadway, starring Tony and Emmy winner Bryan Cranston. More…

Howard Beale, news anchorman, isn’t pulling in the viewers. In his final broadcast he unravels live on screen. But when ratings soar, the network seizes on their newfound populist prophet, and Howard becomes the biggest thing on TV. "Network" depicts a media landscape where opinion trumps fact. Comic and hair-raising by turns, the iconic film by Paddy Chayefsky won four Academy Awards in 1976. Directed by Tony Award winner Ivo van Hove.

Talkin' Broadway

"It all comes together beautifully. Until, puzzlingly, the production falls apart, loses its focus, and turns into another show altogether, a mildly '1984'-ish wannabe satire coupled with a soap opera detour that drags things down pretty much until the end...Cranston is, in a word, magnificent...Goldwyn, Maslany, and the rest of the cast do fine work, but their efforts generally are lost against the technical elements. Only Cranston's remarkably etched portrayal of Howard Beale rises to the t... Full Review


"His big breakdown scene is a master class of acting, saying more with facial expression than words, and his transformation into an overconfident eminence is equally remarkable. Standing center stage (as he often does), delivering one meaty monologue after another, Cranston is consistently mesmerizing." Full Review

Tim Teeman

"When do you really feel you are feasting on the meat and bones of the play?...Mostly when Bryan Cranston’s beautifully, near-perfectly-performed newscaster-turned-furious-prophet Howard Beale is speaking...Cranston’s performance is a wonder...There is one final glorious visual trick that confirms van Hove and Versweyveld as superior stage magicians—even if, with 'Network,' their box of tricks feels a little overstuffed. Bryan Cranston provides all the magic this production needs." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"Chayefsky’s grey-toned universe is one we live in, 40-plus years later. And van Hove doesn’t trust us to see that on our own...Expecting an audience to rely on their familiarity with source material is as slick as milking a madman’s ranting for rating...Yarden’s video design almost dances, but van Hove doesn’t trust that; he has it constantly echoing and competing with the action onstage...Perhaps the director’s idea is never to let the audience feel too comfortable in any medium." Full Review


"My late-arriving discussion of the production seems justified for a play so completely dominated by a single performance. In most other respects, 'Network' is something of a let-down, and certainly no improvement over the film...The adaptation by Lee Hall sticks close to Chayefsky’s original script, with mixed results...Cranston comes damn close to matching the power of Finch’s Beale, focusing more than he predecessor on the character’s desperate sadness." Full Review

Melinda's Malarky

“This production has so many flawed elements the result is a disastrous debacle...Cranston was not able to save this hodgepodge of a mess...I’ll place the blame on the indiscernible adaption by Hall...And his co-conspirator guilty of poor choices director Ivo Van Hove...The stage is overburdened with too many fractious moving parts...The relevance of social all but distilled to a disjointed melodrama and sophomoric philosophizing...The play is in shambles." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Bryan Cranston has a hell of a mad scene in the middle of 'Network'...It’s riveting stuff, because Cranston is an extraordinary actor, and also because, for an extended moment in this tech blitz of a show, there appears to be a human being onstage. Paddy Chayefsky’s Oscar-winning screenplay was a satire of the values of the television age, but humor has never been Van Hove’s strength, and this 'Network' has virtually none of it...'Network' isn’t galvanizing, it’s numbing." Full Review

New York Post

"Cranston does the impossible...he makes Peter Finch’s Oscar-winning turn feel like yesterday’s news...If only the rest of the show was even half as good...Hall, hewing closely and at times verbatim to Chayefsky’s screenplay, fails to rustle up any resonance or fresh insights for today’s era of fake news...When the focus veers from Howard to corporate doublespeak and a cliched melodrama — at least as it’s played here — about an extramarital affair, it’s time to switch channels." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"The result is sensory overload. That, of course, may be (must be?) van Hove’s intent...van Hove’s allowing myriad distractions only obscures the ideas Chayevsky got across on screen...There’s another significant drawback: While creating his mirror-held-up-to-nature world, van Hove doesn’t appear to be paying any more than cursory attention to the actors and the acting. To his credit, Cranston runs quite an emotional gamut." Full Review

Theater News Online

"A strangely wan and out-of-step stage adaptation of the 1976 film. What was frighteningly prescient right before the Carter Administration now seems quaintly admonitory amid the manic, performative idiocy of the Trump era...As pure multimedia spectacle, it’s impressive. As drama, it works fitfully. There’s no denying the vigorous acting by Bryan Cranston and Maslany, who enliven every scene they’re in, and often rise above the digital noise of van Hove’s busy staging." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"There’s something flat about van Hove’s production. It’s got all the requisite external flash, and Lee Hall’s adapted script is clear enough in its outlining of the story’s heightening stakes — the problem is, we recognize those stakes intellectually, but we don’t really feel them...van Hove has only one actor who’s truly on fire. Bryan Cranston’s Beale is a ferocious performance...Other than Cranston, the people feel stuck, sometimes overwrought and often stiff." Full Review


"We already know that Beale’s populist anxieties have become our living nightmare. What director Ivo van Hove’s slick but mostly soulless production fails to do is couch much of this in heart-pounding human drama, despite a deeply felt and characteristically robust turn from Bryan Cranston...Aside from the 'Breaking Bad' star’s visceral performance, most everything else about Van Hove’s production feels rather more hospitable to androids than human players." Full Review

The Washington Post

"Chayefsky’s celebrated screenplay is...dolled up with all sorts of distracting gadgetry by that maestro of fancy doodads, Ivo van Hove...One of the play’s multiple themes is how we’re controlled by TV and the other gizmos we’ve created. The fact that, at times, van Hove forces our eye toward the screens, even when humans are standing front and center before us, is one of the production’s better jokes. But Cranston is the only human in a cast 23 strong with any power to move us." Full Review

The Observer

“Despite an overwhelming star performance by Cranston...And a technology-crammed set so full of distractions that you are too busy watching all the visuals to remember what the play is about in the first place...’Network’ is as dated and irrelevant as a nickel phone call...Both the script and direction careen recklessly between a swerving clash of styles that lurch from mood to mood in scenes of farce, high drama, naturalism and comic fantasy...A combination of ambrosia and apocalypse.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“’Network’ generates a video-and-sound show that obscures the people onstage, never mind the ideas of the script; as a result...with one exception, the production is neither well-cast nor particularly well-directed...The play's real drawing card is Cranston...’Network’ offers the pleasure of a star at the top of his powers...But stripped of its sound and fury and seen from the distance of four decades, much of 'Network''s satire seems pretty elementary." Full Review


"'Network' is a story for our time, which is why it is disappointing that Hall and director Ivo van Hove only make the half-choice to set it here and now...Preserving much of what didn't work in Chayefsky's screenplay...'Network' relies on such operatic rants, not all of which are created equal. Also unequal is the skill with which this cast delivers them...Our eyes are involuntarily drawn to the action on the huge screen upstage. How can real humans possibly compete." Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

"A largely humorless, tech-heavy adaptation...Cranston is the reason to see 'Network'...There aren’t that many other reasons...Broadway’s 'Network' is no longer satire. That is in large measure because Chayefksy...turned out to be prophetic...Video-intense production...Whatever point is being made about the loss of humanity is accompanied by an apparent loss of interest in the humans...only Cranston is allowed a three-dimensional performance." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"Chayefsky’s predictions having long since come to pass, 'Network' is thus a musty period piece...Cranston overcomes that obstacle by putting a personal spin on the part...Not so his colleagues...which has the unintended effect of turning 'Network' into a one-man show...If you’re willing to pay Broadway prices to see Cranston give a tremendous performance, there’s a chance you’ll go home happy. Otherwise, you might as well rent the movie." Full Review


"Ivo van Hove's production doesn't have much to say, though it's exciting to look at...Cranston, as Beale, is the ideal actor for this dual role, simultaneously playing to the live audience and to the camera. His descent is rapid, explosive, and transfixing — it's tough to look away...But his Howard Beale is still a cipher...Beale isn't someone we ever come to care about, and, unfortunately, that extends to all of the characters in the play." Full Review

Great staging, Great acting

See it if for Bryan. He's giving it his all & it shows. They are also doing some cool things technically with camers, but I was a little bored

Don't see it if you don't want to watch someone have a mental breakdown - it gets a little intense. Also has mature themes.

Also Just overall I didn't care that much for the story and characters. The... Read more Read less

Overrated, Great staging, Ambitious, Dizzying, Clever

See it if you like technical wizardry and Big Speeches; you like Bryan Cranston

Don't see it if you're looking for a coherent thesis or a strong ensemble (this is pretty much the Bryan Cranston Show)

Overrated, Indulgent, Intense, Ambitious, Great acting

See it if Cranston is great as always but the Van Hoveian gimmickry is too much here, only drawing attention to the weaknesses of the other players.

Don't see it if Seeing audience members on stage or on one of the myriad screens may be intended as commentary, but it backfires & takes you out of the show

Also Cranston is given Holden’s best line from the movie, reminding us that... Read more Read less

Disappointing, True, Well done, Outdated, Frenetic

See it if you simply love Bryan Cranston. The theme endures. But be sure to spring for a good seat, it matters in this theatre. Get an unobscured seat

Don't see it if you are familiar with the movie and are expecting an updated version. Emotions fall flat because of dated predictablity.

Thought-provoking, Overrated, Ambitious

See it if you really want to. It is a dated show.

Don't see it if you are there to see the performers on stage.

Also While I get the experiment, I was very disappointed that so much of th... Read more Read less

Movie is better, Frenetically staged, Slow, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if Why adapt a movie for stage if not going to use uniqueness of live theater to tell story in new ways? That's NETWORK'S problem; see movie.

Don't see it if Frenzied/confused/confusing staging can't make up for passionless story-telling. Cranston is great, but other performances indifferent.

Relevant, Slow, Disappointing, Overrated, Ambitious

See it if You love Van Hove. His signature obsessions on display.

Don't see it if You like text driven theater. Gimmicky. Not clear why this movie needed to be done onstage.

Slow, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Edgy

See it if you like politically relevant topics and shows that utilize tv screens and media styled presentation

Don't see it if you don't like people shouting the entire show or audience interaction

Relevant, Overrated, Great staging, Disappointing, Ambitious

See it if You love the movie and want to see an at times too slavish adaptation. The set is spectacular and incorporates multimedia seamlessly.

Don't see it if It's longer than it needs to be. There are entire subplots that add nothing but seem to be there exclusively because they were in the movie.

Intense, Great acting, Disappointing, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if You really like Bryan Cranston.

Don't see it if You want a strong drama without distractions

Also Van howe's direction was cribbed from his direction of the damned at t... Read more Read less

Pompous, Frantic, Intense, Relevant, Dizzying

See it if If you love Bryan Cranston

Don't see it if You agree that Ivo has a schtick, and you’ve seen it before and don’t really need to see it again.

Relevant, Great acting, Great staging, Disappointing

See it if you want to see a knock out performance by Cranston in a unique production. He is truly remarkable in the role and the staging is creative

Don't see it if no one else comes close to Cranston's level. in fact, every other performance was surprisingly wooden. Cranston alone can't carry the show

Overrated, Disappointing, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if simply for the acting. Cranston is great

Don't see it if Too distracting with all of the technology, and a very odd political twist at the end that is just meant to upset people on both sides.

Big-thrills-never-arrive, Lacking-structure, Why-do-it-live?, Dull

See it if love, love, love Bryan Cranston. However, except for a few scenes, expect to see him on a big TV screen rather than live on stage.

Don't see it if are expecting the power and revelation of past Van Hove productions. It's not there. The subplots are irrelevant and poorly acted.

Excruciating, Edgy, Relevant, Intense, Confusing

See it if Bryan Cranston is the sole reason to see this show: he is nothing short of brilliant. The rest of the cast? Underwhelming. The plot? A mess.

Don't see it if You are looking for a coherent play and a well-rounded cast. It's oddly prescient, though.

Overrated, Confusing, Absorbing

See it if Good acting by Bryan Cranston in one or two soliloquies. Otherwise he is over the top. Finch was much more belivable.

Don't see it if Too frenetic. It is not meant to be a comedy. There is a fine line between satire and comedy. The videos and music were offsetting. They

Also distracted. Also was there really a need to show videos of every presi... Read more Read less

During previews
Thin and poorly acted. disappointing

See it if you like Bryan Cranston- he was very good. The staging was cool. Interesting to look at and easy to follow.

Don't see it if ... my husband says, “they are supposed to be bad actors, that’s the way it’s directed.” I say, “what??” But that would explain it...

Also I have a ton of sympathy for anyone who has to play a role created by ... Read more Read less

During previews
Dated, Indulgent, Dizzying

See it if you want to see Ivo do his Ivo thing

Don't see it if you want coherent pieces that speak to modern themes, where the staging gimmicks are in support of the piece rather than distracting from it

During previews
Overrated, Edgy, Disappointing, Ambitious

See it if If you like Cranston. He is great in it. If you like modern theater, modern set.

Don't see it if If you want a traditional play. This plays teleprompters spins it out of control. If you dont like music playing while show is going on.

During previews
Indulgent, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Disappointing, Ambitious

See it if You love bold staging and multimedia presentations. To catch Bryan Cranston in a very good performance.

Don't see it if For me it didn’t live up to the movie or to van Hove’s other work. Much time is spent watching screens, some performances were lacking.

Also I was so excited for this one. I love Cranston, I love van Hove, and I... Read more Read less

During previews
Clever, Disappointing, Indulgent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You want to watch Mr. Cranston at his best! Any chance to see him live is a reason to show up.

Don't see it if You expect to be really interested in this thinly adapted story. Also, the rest of the acting seems like amateur-your compared to Cranston.

Also The direction is ambitious but ultimately gratuitous and distracting. ... Read more Read less

During previews
Indulgent, Great acting, Dizzying, Confusing, Ambitious

See it if You're a fan of Bryan Cranston, who is by a mile the best thing about this. It also had some interesting staging that was new to me.

Don't see it if You like more straightforward plays that really put the characters on display. This show seems to care more about staging than character.

During previews
Great acting, Ambitious

See it if you want to see Bryan Cranston do an incredible job with this role.

Don't see it if you hate gimmicky staging.

Also Cranston delivers a Tony-worthy performance, but WOW the staging is al... Read more Read less

During previews
Slow, Great acting, Insipid, Disappointing, Dated

See it if if you want to see Bryan Cranston give an amazing perfomance

Don't see it if IF you are looking for a good show..its so slow and boring...stick to the movie

During previews
Indulgent, Disappointing, Dizzying, Dated, Ambitious

See it if you are a Bryan Cranston fan; he delivers.

Don't see it if you prefer substance to flash or really liked the movie which is a brilliant and thrilling work of art.

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Cast & Creatives (28)