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Network (London)

From 24 critic and 3 member reviews
Members say: Edgy, Intense, Relevant, Ambitious, Absorbing

About the show

A new adaptation of the Oscar-winning film, 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.

The Guardian (UK)

“The 'Breaking Bad' star is magnetic as a raging anchorman in writer Lee Hall and director Ivo van Hove’s extraordinary version of the prophetic satire...A tremendous performance enhanced by the treat the stage as if it were a studio...The performances are as animated as the staging...But the success of the show lies in its capacity to use every facet of live theatre to warn us against surrendering our humanity to an overpowering medium.” Full Review

The London Evening Standard

“While Hall’s adaptation is faithful and affectionate, it also speaks vividly to the present...van Hove has created a brilliant and occasionally bewildering spectacle...It can be hard to know where to look, and that’s the point...The result is two hours of mind-boggling complexity. Sometimes the technical wizardry upsets its momentum. But the show's energy is sustained by Cranston, giving one of the richest and most agonising performances...a King Lear for the soundbite age.” Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

“Van Hove’s staging is the most triumphant demonstration I have seen of his concepts of space, multimedia, and audience/performance relationships...Cranston is everything you might expect and hope...Supporting attractions include a carnivorous Kasim and an episcopal Cordery. Dockery’s performance is perhaps hampered...but she makes the most of what she is given as a prophet of reality TV.” Full Review

Time Out London

“There are going to be those who think...‘Network’ is an almighty fucking mess...But the whole thing is so spectacularly staged that its flaws feel like minor items...Cranston delivers a monumental performance...He is entirely in the moment and entirely thrilling...Versweyveld’s set and lighting and Yarden’s video design were stunning...’Network’ is a glowing, short-circuiting mess...And Van Hove’s electrifying staging is like mainlining it all in one million-volt hit.” Full Review

London Box Office

“One of those rare occasions where a stage play of a successful film, works impressively well - due largely to the TV studio environment which lends an impressive fluidity and flow to Ivo van Hove’s production, whilst enhancing the solid narrative structure...Given the complexities of a television studio, the whole environment is realised amazingly well...The production team have been quick to recognise significant parallels with today’s society which is a great strength.” Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

“The piece is ripe for revisiting. At the same time there's an immediate irony about this adaptation from cinema to stage...The resulting play feels more cinematic than its source...It’s bold, intelligent, funny, with a conceptual and technical swagger that is sometimes quite breathtaking...Such a sophisticated level of multimedia choreography on a stage is simply extraordinary...The result is thrilling, but also fuels the narrative...Cranston is a perfect fit for the role.” Full Review

Daily Beast

“Chayefsky’s ‘Network’ was the first film to look critically, angrily and effectively at...television. Since it’s still available on there much point to Hall’s adaptation?...What justifies the production are, first, the energy and inventiveness of van Hove’s staging and, second and most importantly, one of the finest performances I have ever seen. That comes from Cranston...I fully believed him. What an actor.” Full Review

A Younger Theatre

“Cranston gives an incredible performance...and is utterly captivating...Directed by Ivo van Hove, 'Network' is stunning and inspiring. Supported by a strong cast including an exasperated Schumacher by Henshall and Dockery’s brilliantly detached Diana, it is crucial viewing...It presents ideas we may never have considered before, prompting us to observe ourselves and the way in which we respond to media a little more closely. It at times gets a little dark, but ultimately, 'Network' is hopeful." Full Review

The New York Times

“This revamped ‘Network’...feels as pertinent to our time as it did to its own...Cranston is the perfect stark raving center for this meticulously calibrated mayhem...Watching him romancing the cameras, and seeing him transformed into an army of simulcast selves, is one of this production’s great, disorienting pleasures. If only he didn’t have to sermonize so much...It’s when all the technological bells and whistles are operating that this ‘Network’ thrills, even as it agonizes.” Full Review

The Telegraph (UK)

“Van Hove seems to have found the perfect material for his modish aesthetic here...He utilizes an impressive technological box of tricks...Everywhere there is motion, confusion, distraction...This editing job is faithful to the original...proving Chayefsky prophetic...Cranston’s Beale looks terrific in the many close-ups...he starts off recognizably ordinary...and moves by degrees from a wild-man in his underpants to an ethereal, inspiring presence...It works.” Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

“Electric staging...Hall’s adaptation...makes this look like a prescient, urgent text...van Hove’s production dazzlingly evokes both fake news and reality television...There are weaknesses. A romantic subplot is feeble: despite the nice work of Dockery and Henshall...Cranston is hugely impressive as he skims from fragile to dangerous, sincere to sceptical, palely haunted to passionately possessed.” Full Review

What's On Stage (UK)

“This slick, beautifully paced production is a non-stop, fluid roller coaster...It's an intense, riveting way of viewing that never allows the audience to turn off...Cranston himself is magnetic...For all its smooth seamlessness, however, the whole set up of ‘Network’ is a little distancing. Perhaps that's the point, but it ultimately means this show is a piece that's easy to admire but hard to really love. Still, Hall's superb adaptation is one of the shining lights of the entire night.” Full Review

The Independent (UK)

“Hall sticks close to the film, pruning subplots but retaining famous speeches, delivered with superb, focused charisma by Cranston...A magnetic yet weighty performance...van Hove’s screen-filled production is frenetic – but within it, Cranston finds stillness...Even with a performance as mighty as Cranston’s, our attention is constantly drawn to the blown-up, artificial image rather than the man standing before us...This tactic...can detract as is distracts, but here it seems apposite." Full Review


“It is the most successful fusion of live and recorded elements that I have ever seen...The sound of the diners eating, the commercials and TV shows...the excellent music score, all vie for our attention as the drama unfolds. Thankfully, the faultless cast make for a gripping evening...Cranston is magnificent...The second hour...begins to sag slightly...Yet there is much to admire in this sleek, seamless fusion of media that demonstrates how complicit we are in our manipulation.” Full Review

The Stage (UK)

“At times everything’s so hectic that you’re not sure where to look...Yet Cranston’s performance supplies the human heartbeat amid the staging’s shiny machinery. Diana is a soulless creature, but Dockery plays her with appetite, and Henshall’s Schumacher has the slumped, bitter despair of a man who knows his time has passed. The whole glossy, hectoring, lurid package has an undeniable charge and compulsion...It’s not always a pretty sight. But it’s almost impossible to look away.” Full Review

Metro (UK)

“To the current US political scene, ‘Network’s’ themes of exploitation in the media make this play as ripely contemporary now as it did then...Cranston’s anthemic, tour-de-force a pronounced study in the internalised chaos of existence...Remarkably ambitious staging...van Hove personally engulfs his audience with technicality that becomes overbearing – spectacular theatre, but invasive, and all-consuming...In the end, it’s a stomach-turning ride.” Full Review

The Times (UK)

“Network might have made a lot of sense transplanted to 2017. Instead we have a straight recreation of the 1970s...With Hall teasing out the more contemporary resonances throughout...Beale is immaculately played by Bryan Cranston...The highly regarded Ivo van Hove fills the stage with the frenetic bustle of a TV studio...It’s restless and distracting, and it’s meant to be...’Network’ is bang up to date and definitely one to see.” Full Review

Theatre Bubble

“ a theatrical tour de force. He makes the though he were playing King Lear...There is a cacophony of images on stage that is sometimes hard to watch. Despite having Cranston in the flesh...our eyes are instead drawn to the close-up on the cinema-sized screen...teaching us the overwhelming power of the screen...Hall’s script is tight, if somewhat wordy, and he manages to retain the best of the film." Full Review


“The whole production dances itself into distraction...Cranston glides through it all effortlessly...We can’t take our eyes of him...van Hove himself seems stuck on repeat, reusing trickery he’s deployed before — and with diminishing returns. ‘Network’ can feel like the storyboard of a show, one still lacking life. It’s deliberate...and as Hall’s script flags up the fakeries of the film, its contrived romance, it slips further...into a stilted, self-aware soap.” Full Review

London Theatre

“’Network’ turns the theatre into a live event cinema...We've seen this before...but this time the form is a commentary on itself, and it also feels like the director is recycling himself...The actors are subservient at all times to the technology...There's too much of Cranston on a TV screen...The production chases the thrill of immediacy at all costs...There's plenty of food for provocative thought here. But the film still exists and I'm not sure we needed to revisit it in this form.” Full Review

Express UK

“Chayefsky’s attacks on media monopolies and the trivialisation of the news, faithfully transcribed by Hall, remain potent...But the romantic subplot and the violent ending are disastrously muddled...Moreover, there’s an unacknowledged irony in a play that depicts the dangers of the screen relying so heavily on the screen for its effect...Fortunately...Cranston survives van Hove’s sensationalism to make a memorable British theatre debut.” Full Review

BBC London

“It is rather two-dimensional and a tad disappointing...The problem is the directorial conceit. On-stage TV cameras relay much of the action we see onto the giant screen at the back. It's a device that works at a rock concert...In the more intimate environment of a has the opposite effect and actually makes the players feel more distant...Hall has missed an opportunity to explore and update the central themes inherent in the film.” Full Review

Daily Mail (UK)

“There were times when I badly wanted to kick van Hove...who drowns his actors in a sea of excessive tech. There are so many screens and special effects, you don’t know where to look...And why is half the stage a restaurant...Hall is pretty faithful to Chayefsky’s legendary film script...Cranston and the excellent cast do their best to tell the story in this ultra-modish adaptation. But this is shiny, soulless theatre by a director with no clue when it comes to the human touch.” Full Review

The Times (UK)

“Some fine acting loses out to sheer sensory cacophony...The set infuriated me. It was like a teenager’s bedroom — but crazier...There was only one small bit of the stage that was left for actual acting...Cranston is brilliant...He takes his tiny bit of stage and owns it. He’s messianic, composed, gravelly voiced, both sensible and insane...Hall’s adapted script is slow to take off; about halfway finds its pace. The outrage feels real but the satire lacked a savage edge.” Full Review

Intense, Edgy, Confusing, Intelligent

See it if It's a fast paced and original design to a 1976 movie. It can be distracting at times with all that goes on around the stage.

Don't see it if Political issues, fast paced, many scenes and actors on stage, all at once. Audience members eating/drinking on stage.

Ambitious, Disappointing, Edgy, Indulgent, Overrated

See it if If you like Bryan Cranston, or an edgy modern play. Cranston is very good in this.

Don't see it if If you dont like a lot of acting on teleprompters. Play tries to be over the top edgy. If you want a play that has many good actors.

Intense, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Absorbing

See it if Outstanding performance by Bryan Cranston, providing character depth but with some charm and warmth. Supporting cast not memorable.

Don't see it if Still relevant story/text about television as a medium and its workings--ratings obsession, message conflicts, production & staff struggles.

Also Intriguing set/staging, including video screens, which conveys the tel... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (33)