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Wednesday 7 March 2018

Foodwork – Dining with Bryan Cranston and Michelle Dockery on the National Theatre Stage!

Readers of this site will know that I will travel the earth for good food, but few places have been as exciting as the National Theatre stage!

Network is a play based on the iconic, four-time Oscar-winning Paddy Chayefsky film, adapted for the stage for the first time by Lee Hall (Billy Elliot) and directed by Ivo Van Hove. Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) and Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) lead the cast.

The play follows the ups and downs of Beale (played by Cranston), who announces that he will kill himself during a live broadcast because his show is getting poor ratings. He instantly becomes a folk hero and leads the nation’s viewers in a rallying cry: “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this any more.”

The stage for Network recreates a TV studio, with a kitchen, restaurant and diners as an integral part of the set. I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of the precious seats at the Network restaurant, set on the stage of the Lyttleton, and so surreally found myself sitting with a couple of dozen other diners with Cranston facing the bright lights on the stage.  The play was a scream, but I won’t give any plot-spoilers for those who might be going to see it.

Sadly Network the play is now sold out, but you can still get tickets through Day Seats and Friday Rush

Better still, the menu served on stage is available at the National Theatre’s House restaurant until the end of the run on 24 March 2018. Crafted in a unique first-of-its-kind collaboration between the Network creative team and the NT’s in-house catering department, the meal aims to transport the diner to the 1970s and serves a contemporary take on classic dishes from the era.  This post-show menu includes five courses including a cocktail and a glass of wine, at a cost of £38 per person.

The dinner started with a glass of Nyetimber sparkling wine or a “Mad as Hell” cocktail, and we opted for the sparkly, which was elegance in a glass. 

The starter was a simple but flavourful combination of butternut squash purée with crispy shallots and kale. 

Next was a very 70s-looking glass of Portland crab cocktail – old fashioned in appearance but with freshest dressed crab, shredded lettue and marie rose sauce. The vegetarian alternative was a taleggio, cavolo nero and salsify tart. 

The main course was a delectable short rib and ox cheek bourguignon, with tender meat falling off the bone in a richly concentrated jus. For vegetarians, the main was grilled vegetables with romesco sauce and fried polenta. 

After a refreshing gin and tonic sorbet, the dessert course offered a choice of that 70s classic black forest gateau or a cheese platter.  We chose the cheese, including Westcomb cheddar, Cropwell Bishop and beetroot chutney. 

The £38 menu includes a glass of either Galassia Garganega – Pinot Grigio or a Rocco Sangiovese, both from Italy. 

I enjoyed the play and the dinner at Network Studios at the National Theatre.  Not long ago I also got to see the revival of Amadeus at the Olivier Theatre, which was superb.  The National Theatre is certainly coming more onto my radar these days, and I will be looking out for more plays and dining experiences at this iconic London landmark. You can see more about what is upcoming here: https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/whats-on

1 comment:

  1. When I booked my ticket I had no idea about dining options! then again, I went by myself so dining alone would have been dull. I loved the play, and loved the stage set up with the diners and so forth. How did it feel to be on stage and eating while everything was going on around you?


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