The National Theatre’s staging of Under Milk Wood is far from the first time Dylan Thomas’ poem has been adapted for the stage. It’s easy to see the temptation to perform a work so packed with characters, drifting through a strange, semi-mythical setting encountering one another.
How many productions does it take for a playwright to have a moment? We could be on the cusp of a William Wycherley wave, with the second production of The Country Wife to arrive this year (the first being at the Southwark Playhouse in April).
A satire that managed to predict just how powerful a tool populist anger can be when leveraged effectively, it is transformed into the immersive bustle of a TV studio, that of UBS Evening News where old hack Howard Beale – a transcendent performance by Bryan Cranston – has been handed his notice.
This autumn the National Theatre stages the world-premiere of Network, Lee Hall’s new adaptation of the Oscar-winning film by Paddy Chayefsky.
Directed by Ivo van Hove, the cast includes Bryan Cranston as Howard Beale, Michelle Dockery as Diana Christenson and Douglas Henshall as Max Schumaker.
Which is a roundabout way of saying that Robert Icke’s production of The Red Barn was not the play I thought it would be. And that my initial slightly cool reaction was as much a response to that as it was to the material itself.