Review Round Up: Network, National Theatre

Michelle Dockery and Bryan Cranston star in Lee Hall’s adaptation of Network, and directed by Ivo Van Hove. Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews here: 


The Guardian: ***** “But the success of the show, which runs for two hours without interval, lies in its capacity to use every facet of live theatre to warn us against surrendering our humanity to an overpowering medium, whether it be television or invasive technology.”

The Independent: **** “Lee Hall sticks close to the film, pruning subplots but retaining famous speeches, delivered with superb, focused charisma by Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston as Howard Beale. It’s a magnetic yet weighty performance, with Cranston becoming craggy and wearied before attaining something that seems like grace.”

WhatsOnStage: **** “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.”

The Telegraph: **** “As might be expected, Cranston’s Beale looks terrific in the many close-ups – thin-lipped, with haunted eyes, he starts off recognisably ordinary, almost invisible, certainly worn-down and moves by degrees from a wild-man in his underpants to an ethereal, inspiring presence unlocking the transcendental mysteries of eternal corporate power.”

Time Out: ***** “Cranston delivers a monumental performance. His Howard is a man genuinely on the edge. ”

The Stage: **** “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.”

London *** “Network is all about our collective hoodwinking and manipulation by the forces of television; but it feels weirdly, too, like we’re falling victims to the same control mechanisms by this slick, over-produced stage version.”

The Metro: **** “Cranston’s anthemic, tour-de-force performance as Beale, which, borrowed from the greatest Shakespeares (King Lear in particular) is a pronounced study in the internalised chaos of existence that we all feel from time to time”

Broadway World: **** “there’s thrilling immediacy to the show, because of, not despite, the video work.”

British ***** ” there is much to admire in this sleek, seamless fusion of media that demonstrates how complicit we are in our manipulation.”

Exeunt Magazine: ” Network eliminates arguably the most important point of live theatre and storytelling per se. With so many other things to focus on, the underlying plot and the humans in it are often obscured – which is intellectually easy to appreciate as ‘the point’ of the production, but emotionally frustrating to actually watch.”

London Box Office: ***** “This is 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 director Ivo van Hove’s production, whilst enhancing the solid narrative structure.”

The Upcoming: ***** “The production almost ends up eating itself – almost.”

British Theatre Guide: “This production looks great, is highly intelligent, suitably dramatic while conveying a message for our times and features the kind of performance from Bryan Cranston, making the kind of National Theatre debut, that is likely to sweep the board when the awards season comes around.”

The FT: ***** “Bryan Cranston is everything you might expect and hope.”

There Ought to be Clowns: “Cranston’s Beale is a titanic achievement, his every utterance and movement utterly unmissable as circumstance prevails to postpone his mental breakdown but not entirely thwart it.”

Theatre Cat: “Bryan Cranston certainly earns  every  award going for his craggy, convincing  Beale.”

View From the Cheap Seat: “Cranston’s take on Howard Beale, more melancholy and resigned than Peter Finch’s high-energy, manic and above all else, urgent performance, is better suited to the times.”

Radio Times: **** “With one eye on the present, this production cleverly updates the script while staying true to the original, inviting the audience to think more deeply about who’s pulling the strings backstage.”

Network will play at the National Theatre until the 24th March. For more information and to book tickets visit:






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