Review: Network, starring Bryan Cranston
Turning a movie into a play is arguably harder than turning it into a musical. Without the creativity that stems from the music in musical to help separate the movie and the play, it leaves you wondering if the play in question will feel too much like the movie. Yet, Network succeeds in a million different ways, and it will make you think the story (and that iconic line) all stemmed from the creation of the play itself.
In a busy news station, Howard Beale (Bryan Cranston) has been informed that he is being fired, due to falling ratings for the network. But his insistence on going out with his own statement leads to an on-air meltdown that causes ratings to skyrocket and a young member of the programming department, Diana (Tatiana Maslany), sees an opportunity in his breakdown.
As the show's main takeaway is one that American's souls are being taken over by television networks and the bigger corporations behind it; the point is driven home through a stressful and invasive setting on stage, blurring the lines between personal and private, as commentary about work in the entertainment industry, no matter what capacity.
And with all the technology on the stage of the Belasco, the audience is made painfully aware of the invasive nature technology comes with. As theater goers, we become privy to Beale's breakdown, and an affair between Diana and Max Schumacher (Tony Goldwyn), former news division head who is put out to pasture with Beale. Their affair is anything but discreet, with diners in a restaurant witnessing a hookup. We additionally are aware of the inner workings of the network, marital issues between Max and his wife Louise (Alyssa Bresnahan), and watch as Diana's motivations come to light.
Yet "invasive" could be putting it mildly. Two cameras follow the cast around, giving the audience a view into everything on a screen in the middle of the show, as if we were watching Beale's shows ourselves, plus more than anyone could have bargained for. As a result, Network succeeds in driving home the lessons taught by Beale as he begins to become somewhat of an evangelist on screen. And it ties in nicely to the world as it is, as everyone will having gotten to scream these iconic words: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!"