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Sunday, March 17, 2019

A Force Of Nature

Because our daughter has known since the fifth grade she wanted to be an actress, we've managed to see a lot of Broadway shows since the late 90's. Over all those years, if I've seen a stronger dramatic performance than Bryan Cranston's portrayal of Howard Beale in the current run of Network, I can't recall it.

And for those who revere Peter Finch's Oscar-winning turn as Beale in the 1976 film of the same name, I promise you - Cranston is equally riveting. The focus of the play tilts a bit more toward the Beale role than the film. For my money, this worked well because it kept Cranston on the stage more than the film had Finch on the screen. Cranston's feral presence and unhinged energy grabbed me from the start and the emotional build up in the pivotal scene as Beale stumbles onto the classic mantra ("I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!") might be the most visceral and electrifying theater I've ever experienced. Topping it off was the startling, innovative set simulating a TV studio.

What theater performance have you ever seen that qualifies as a force of nature? In my mind, those are fitting words to describe Bryan Cranston as Howard Beale. This show is worth what you'll pay for it, I assure you.

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