Whoever decided to revive Chayefsky’s film via a stage production made an astute choice. Network could hardly be more topical or timely in an era that has become infamous for false truths, ‘fake news’ and where ideas have become truncated and traduced by social media.
There’s something a little depressingly predictable about my inability to resist a neat bit of star casting – Marcia Gay Harden’s long-in-the-making UK theatrical debut being the guilty party here. It’s depressing because Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth is a play I wasn’t much of a fan of the one time I saw it before and the heart wasn’t beating any faster at the prospect of sitting through it once again.
There’s a reason it’s a lesser known play, all of the usual Tennessee Williams tropes are here; lust abounds, there are layers of manipulation and the sweltering south is almost a character in its own right. Nonetheless it is all strung together by a fairly ropey plot that layers on unsubtle statements on southern politics in the 50’s.