Based on Paddy Chayefsky’s Academy Award-winning 1976 film, Lee Hall adapts Network for the National Theatre’s Lyttelton stage, playing a strictly limited run and starring Bryan Cranston. In an era plagued by “fake news” and accusations of politicians manipulating social media to work in their favour, the topical play remains shockingly relevant today.
Network follows world-weary broadcaster Howard Beale, as declining ratings threaten his job. As his livelihood becomes jeopardised, he vows to kill himself live on air. Audiences immediately grow, and the TV executives realise there’s money to be made is his uninhibited rants. Both terrifying and hilarious, this vintage world where opinion trumps fact is all too familiar in the current climate.
Bryan Cranston stars as Howard Beale, best known for playing Walter White in Breaking Bad. Theatre credits include Broadway’s All the Way, whilst multiple screen appearances include The Cleveland Show, How I Met Your Mother, Sneaky Pete and SuperMansion.
Further casting includes Charles Babalola, Tobi Bamtefa, Ed Begley, Alex Bonney, Tom Challenger, Richard Cordery, Isabel Della-Porta, Michelle Dockery, Kit Downes, Ian Drysdale, Michael Elwyn, Caroline Faber, Robert Gilbert, Pete Harden, Douglas Henshall, Tom Hodgkins, Tunji Kasim, Andrew Lewis, Beverley Longhurst, Evan Milton, Stuart Nunn, Rebecca Omogbehin, Patrick Poletti, Danny Szam, Paksie Vernon and Matthew Wright.
Network is adapted for the stage by Lee Hall (Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, Billy Elliot) and is directed by Ivo van Hove (The Crucible, Hedda Gabler, Lazarus), featuring set and lighting design by Jan Versweyveld, costume design by An D’Huys, sound design by Eric Sleichim and video design by Tal Yarden.
Incorporating onstage dining, live video footage and multiple locations, Network reminds audiences of the relentless influence the media has over us today. The production plays at the National’s Lyttelton Theatre from 4 November 2017 to 24 March 2018, with a press night on 13 November 2018.
A particular highlight is ‘Foodwork’, the onstage restaurant where certain ticketholders are served a three-course, fine dining meal over the duration of the show, in view of the rest of the audience. This immersive element is a particularly unique feature of the show.
Running time: 2 hours (without an interval)
Age recommendation: Not suitable for children
Special notice: Fans of the original film, immersive theatre, technology and the media will find this dark comedy particularly cutting in today’s political climate. Impressive design and solid writing are also a draw.