Courtesy Jan Versweyveld

When does London’s National Theatre production of Network, opening tonight at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway, really hit its meaningful stride? When do you really feel you are feasting on the meat and bones of the play, adapted by Lee Hall from Paddy Chayefsky’s 1976 movie script which won him the Oscar for Best Screenplay?

Mostly when Bryan Cranston’s beautifully, near-perfectly-performed newscaster-turned-furious-prophet Howard Beale is speaking simply, directly, and clearly to the audience, without any of the cameras wheeling around the stage, without any of the commercials and stage action playing on the massive screen at the back of the stage, and without any of the subsidiary action of a TV control room plonked on the left of the stage.

Network as a stage play works best when it’s as simple as Peter Finch speaking into the camera as in the Sidney Lumet-directed movie, although it must be fun to watch the action while sitting and eating on the stage, as some of the audience are able to do and have Cranston lecture them as they nervously sip wine.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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Author: By tim.teeman@thedailybeast.com (Tim Teeman)