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A reviews round-up for The Nether at the Duke of York’s theatre.

Headlong and the Royal Court’s acclaimed production of crime thriller The Nether is an intricate crime drama and a haunting thriller set in the year 2050.  The Nether follows an investigation into the complicated, disturbing morality of identity in the digital world, and explores the consequences of making dreams a reality

Directed by Headlong artistic director Jeremy Herrin, The Nether features extraordinary set designs by Es Devlin and video designs by Luke Halls. Costume is by Christina Cunningham, lighting by Paul Pyant, compositions by Nick Powell and sound by Ian Dickinson. The cast include Amanda Hale, Stanley Townsend and Ivanno Jeremiah.

The Nether  plays the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited 12 week run from 30 January to 25 April 2015.

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REVIEWS ROUND-UP

STAR RATING The Daily Telegraph

“Jennifer Haley’s drama about the darker side of the internet is more riveting than ever in this West End transfer”

The American playwight’s vision of the coming world is actually almost as restrained as it is bold. Envisaging a near-future when a more sophisticated cyberspace environment (“the Nether”) exists, allowing people to lose themselves in highly sensory virtual realms, the piece is short (one hour 20 minutes). Its characters are thinly sketched – and though tightly plotted, almost like a thriller, it leaves you wanting more in a way that might make it seem slight. We’ve just begun to get to grips with it when, like some online pop-up ad, it’s gone.

“On watching Jeremy Herrin’s immaculate production again at its West End transfer, though, I’ve become far more appreciative of the play’s relative modesty of scope and surprisingly conventional theatrics.”

“And on (slow-dawning) reflection, this is the genius of the show. It’s not a flashy attempt to summarise a multitude of topical issues or generally bedazzle us with science, but a bid to open up a debate by asking one big, intractable question: what if “the Nether” was utopian, not dystopian?”

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STAR RATING Evening Standard

“It’s one of the most vital questions of our time and what a thrill it is to see the theatre asking it so urgently: is what we do online devoid of repercussions in the real world? American playwright Jennifer Haley has come up with a clinically efficient and unflinching 75 minutes of drama, awarded a much-merited transfer after a sell-out season at the Royal Court last summer. Rarely has the West End worried over such a pertinent issue.”

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STAR RATING The Independent

“It sounds a cock-eyed compliment to say that I wouldn’t want to see Jeremy Herrin’s brilliant production of Jennifer Haley’s deeply disturbing and very responsibly provocative play again in a hurry – and then have the calm effrontery to urge you to go and check it out.

But that paradox is, in fact, a great tribute to the imaginative power of the piece.  As well as bravely tackling a subject that is, by its nature and of necessity, morally troubling in a horribly irresolvable way, The Nether boasts dialogue of such shaped, poetic restraint and eloquent economy that it’s as if the words – brusque but sometimes burgeoning into a steady, warped raptness – are being incised on the air. ”

“Bravo to Vicky Featherstone and Headlong (the co-producers) for programming this authentically challenging piece.”

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STAR RATING The Stage

“There are some capable performances, particularly from Amanda Hale and young Zoe Brough, who alternates the role of Iris, but the play’s twist isn’t really all that twisty and despite being written in 2012 it feels oddly dated. Tim Price’s Teh Internet is Serious Business – which was also staged by the Royal Court – was far from perfect but was at least engaging with issues surrounding the internet today, whereas this, despite being set some time in the future, feels a bit vintage,especially since its ideas have already been picked over many times before in the novels of William Gibson or The Matrix. Or Strange Days. Or Blade Runner. Or, hell, even Red Dwarf. In 1988.”

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