Ian Dickson

Ian Dickson

Ian Dickson has degrees in drama from Yale and the University of New South Wales, and is the co-author of the musical Better Known As Bee.

Ian Dickson reviews 'Dramatic Exchanges: The lives and letters of the National Theatre' edited by Daniel Rosenthal

April 2019, no. 410 25 March 2019
Ian Dickson reviews 'Dramatic Exchanges: The lives and letters of the National Theatre' edited by Daniel Rosenthal
What exactly is a National Theatre for? What is its purpose? What form should it take? National theatres come in many configurations. There is the four-hundred-year-old Comédie-Française serenely presiding over French culture from the Salle Richelieu. The Habima Theatre of Israel, which mirrors the history of many of its countrymen in its journey from imperial persecution in Białystok to its tr ... (read more)

Mary Stuart (Sydney Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 11 February 2019
Mary Stuart (Sydney Theatre Company)
The contest between Elizabeth Tudor and her cousin Mary Stuart, providing two such meaty roles, has proved irresistible fodder over the years for actresses on both stage and screen. On film, Katherine Hepburn and Florence Eldridge, Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson, and Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie have taken turns to duke it out. Recently, on stage in London, there was a much-praised adaptat ... (read more)

Ian Dickson reviews 'The Luck of Friendship: The letters of Tennessee Williams and James Laughlin' edited by Peggy L. Fox and Thomas Keith

January-February 2019, no. 408 18 December 2018
Ian Dickson reviews 'The Luck of Friendship: The letters of Tennessee Williams and James Laughlin' edited by Peggy L. Fox and Thomas Keith
The tall, handsome, socially adept if emotionally reticent scion of a wealthy, well-connected family and the crumpled, physically unimpressive, excitable son of an alcoholic travelling salesman seem to be an unlikely pair to form a long-standing friendship. For both James Laughlin and Thomas Lanier ‘Tennessee’ Williams, however, this relationship was among the most important in their lives. ... (read more)

The Dance of Death (Belvoir St Theatre)

ABR Arts 15 November 2018
The Dance of Death (Belvoir St Theatre)
After staggering out of a performance of The Dance of Death, August Strindberg’s turbulent portrayal of a marriage, one fervently hopes Tolstoy was right and that each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. No other theatrical couple – not Edward Albee’s George and Martha, not Eugene O’Neill’s James and Mary Tyrone or Ezra and Christine Mannon – reach quite the depths of malicious c ... (read more)

A Cheery Soul (Sydney Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 12 November 2018
A Cheery Soul (Sydney Theatre Company)
This reviewer has the unfashionable opinion, at present, that Patrick White, like Henry James, was a novelist and short story writer of genius who had an unfortunate obsession with the stage. In the 1960s, the nascent Adelaide Festival produced the one play of his that deserves repetition, The Season at Sarsaparilla (1962). Its success motivated him to write another couple, one of which was A Chee ... (read more)

Degenerate Art (Red Line Productions)

ABR Arts 25 October 2018
Degenerate Art (Red Line Productions)
In the middle of Adolf Hitler’s speech to the assembled faithful on the final evening of the 1934 Nuremberg Rally which is the culmination of Leni Riefenstahl’s film Triumph of the Will, the führer conjures up a particularly heartfelt bellow from the gathering. For a moment he looks down at the podium with a smirk and a slight shrug, as if to say, that went down well. Here, we can see him as ... (read more)

An Enemy of the People (Belvoir St Theatre)

ABR Arts 12 October 2018
An Enemy of the People (Belvoir St Theatre)
Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People is both one of his most approachable and most challenging plays. The plot is universal: an individual attempts to force his community to face an uncomfortable truth and is pilloried by his neighbours. The play can be and indeed has been set in whichever country it is being performed. The challenge comes from the stand Ibsen’s protagonist takes and the prec ... (read more)

Accidental Death of an Anarchist (Sydney Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 17 September 2018
Accidental Death of an Anarchist (Sydney Theatre Company)
It is not entirely hyperbolic to claim that for more than half a century, Dario Fo and his partner in life and performance, Franca Rame, were the theatrical conscience of Italy. In a variety of theatrical forms and with a series of different companies, they toured the country, playing to huge and varied audiences who responded to a style that could be called a combination of the Giullare, the medi ... (read more)

Athalia (Pinchgut Opera)

ABR Arts 25 June 2018
Athalia (Pinchgut Opera)
Following the end of the 1733 London opera season, George Frideric Handel headed to Oxford with his first two oratorios, Esther and Deborah and the newly composed Athalia. While the first two were well enough received, Athalia was a triumph, with newspaper claims that 3,700 people attended the performances. The story of the defeat of the wicked daughter of Jezabel, worshipper of the god Baal, who, ... (read more)

Still Point Turning: The Catherine McGregor story (Sydney Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 30 April 2018
Still Point Turning: The Catherine McGregor story (Sydney Theatre Company)
In the introduction to her seminal memoir of life as a transgender person, Conundrum (1974), the author Jan Morris makes it clear that she is not concerned with merely narrating the facts of her condition. ‘What was important’ to relate ‘was the liberty of us all to live as we wished to live, to love however we wanted to love, and to know ourselves, however peculiar, disconcerting or unclass ... (read more)