Network – of art. ★★★★★

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Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Malcolm in the Middle) is currently lighting up West End in the fantastic show ‘Network’, based on the popular film by the same name by Paddy Chayefsky. Network is currently running at the National Theatre, London and will have performances up until March 24th. Currently sold out, there are still Friday Rush tickets available for £20, and standing room.

I believe there have been a few flops, and less audiences at the National in 2017, but they are starting 2018 with a sell-out performance. Big stage, big names, big revenue. I would wait in line for cancellations if I couldn’t get tickets any other way because this show is a must-see.

Howard Beale, news anchorman, is hitting low scores and is therefore being fired/let go. In his final broadcast he causes a giant stir that sends audiences into a frenzy. Causing high scores and a demand for him to be on the air. Becoming the biggest thing on the air, Beale delves between the real and the surreal, making audiences question the world around them.

With actress Michelle Dockery and actor Douglas Henshal along side Bryan Cranston, the acting in this show is powerful, complimenting an excellently written script, and dramatic, innovative directing. I cannot find fault.

One section two character walk outside of the theatre, around it, and back again with a camera following them. This was a surreal experience, trying to guess if it were live or not. Appluading them and the streets of London for being so cool.

One of the most engaging scenes, which had audiences shouting and reveling, almost rioting, was where Beale demands everyone gets up from their seats and shouts “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore”, multiple times. That fourth wall being broken, to use the audience as an audience, was highly motivating and it really added to the realism of the piece. It also pumped the audience, as this two-hour show doesn’t include an interval, so it is a clever way to keep your audience engage and alive with the show.

The set design is one of my favourites, ever. The stage is transformed into a news room, with a large screen so when Cranston is reading the news, the audience are able to view it on the large screen, like a TV as they would at home. This creates a new dimension to the theatre space, and for us people at the back it was great to see Bryan’s face and emotions on the screen to get that full experience of his acting abilities.

This piece is emotionally and technologically driven, I wont give out any more spoilers but the ending it an outstanding montage.

Also, Bryan is always lovely and friendly enough to meet his fans after and have a chat in the freezing cold.

Here we are. Aren’t we a beautiful couple?

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