What’s it all about?
First things first, The Nether is what the internet has become by 2050; a virtual world where it is possible to live Matrix-style, should you wish, while your frail physical form sits on life support.
Everything can be experienced online; work, school and, most pertinent to Jennifer Haley’s murky, unnerving thriller, safe houses where the most taboo of real world desires can be fulfilled without anyone being hurt.
As a rookie cybercop digs deeper into one such paedophilic playground, The Hideaway, it soon becomes clear that someone will always get hurt in the end.
Who’s in it?
Almost the entire cast that helped make The Nether a huge critical and public hit at the Royal Court return for the West End run.
Amanda Hale gives an angular, muscular, passionate performance as young detective Morris, locking horns with Stanley Townsend’s brilliantly complex Sims, the creator and proprietor of The Hideaway, who is at one moment both sinister crimelord, brilliant businessman, warm father-figure and the devil incarnate.
What should I watch out for?
The visually astounding set created by Es Devlin and Luke Halls. From the sci-fi table straight out of a blockbuster movie to the enticingly beautiful realisation of The Hideaway via CGI-inspired video, it would make you gasp with amazement if the content of the play had not already made your chin hit the floor like a lead weight.
Moments – and there are many – that will make your skin crawl before asking you to think again about what you are watching.
Who was in the press night crowd?
There has been oodles of talk about just how good The Nether is, and its opening certainly brought out the big guns. Stephen Daldry, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Sophie Okenedo and Zoë Wanamaker were all in for press night.
In a nutshell?
Dark, disturbing and devastatingly brilliant, The Nether takes you to places you never wanted to go, forces you to reconsider them and entertains you simultaneously.
What’s being said on Twitter?
@luciagraves #TheNether was brave, compassionate, dark, and thoughtful on the crossover between our digital and physical selves.
@Catriona_Cahill #TheNether @dukeofyorksLDN is an extraordinary piece of theatre. Courageous writing, mind-blowing design and flawless execution. A must see.
Will I like it?
Let’s not beat around the proverbial bush, The Nether is an astounding piece of theatre.
Gripping from beginning to end, with enough twists to satisfy any thriller fan, it takes a bold, brave step to explore huge issues from paedophilia to online anonymity, parenthood to the nature of reality, and does so with an open hand raising genuinely important questions. As we’ve come to expect from co-producers Headlong, it achieves all this with visually stunning and dramatic panache.
You may wince while you’re in the theatre, but I guarantee The Nether will keep you talking for weeks to come.