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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.

'Dracula: Kip Williams tackles Bram Stoker’s classic' by Ian Dickson

ABR Arts 08 July 2024
For the past thirty years, breakthroughs in video and sound technology have, for better or worse, seeped into live performance. For better in the case of Kip William’s production of Suddenly Last Summer and Lindy Hume and Dave Bergman’s Winterreise for Musica Viva. For worse with David Livermore/Opera Australia’s ludicrous Anna Bolena and Ivo van Hove’s self-indulgent All About Eve. With D ... (read more)

'King Lear: A chamber Lear from Bell Shakespeare' by Ian Dickson

ABR Arts 24 June 2024
King Lear is the Everest of Shakespeare’s tragedies, looming over theatre companies, challenging them to make the perilous ascent. It is also the darkest. Hamlet may finish with almost as many bodies strewn around the stage, and Macbeth delves deep into malign forces unleashed by cravings for power, but with the former ending with the arrival of Fortinbras, Hamlet’s chosen successor, and the l ... (read more)

'The President: A Thomas Bernhard première in Sydney' by Ian Dickson

ABR Arts 18 April 2024
Recuperating after an almost lethal bout of tuberculosis contracted in his twenties, the Austrian novelist and playwright Thomas Bernhard (1931-89) wrote that he had ‘discovered my method of working, my own brand of infamy, my particular form of brutality, my own idiosyncratic taste’. It was a method that from the start made him Austria’s literary hair shirt. In novel after novel and play af ... (read more)

'Maria Callas: The centenary of a prima donna assoluta' by Ian Dickson

ABR Arts 05 December 2023
More over-heated gush has been written about the Greek-American singer Maria Callas than about any other performer, with the possible exception of Greta Garbo. Given that Callas’s centenary has just occurred (2 December), we can expect much more of the same. Steven Knight is shooting a biopic, Maria, with Angelina Jolie, which one hopes will fare better than Franco Zeffirelli’s cringe-making v ... (read more)

'The Master & Margarita: A glorious production of Bulgakov at Belvoir' by Ian Dickson

ABR Arts 20 November 2023
Don’t contradict strange gentlemen. Take special care around the George Street light rail. Watch out for flying pigs. Treat any black cat you might meet with caution, especially ones that speak to you. Woland and his satanic crew have taken up residence at Belvoir. One of the many ironies connected to the Russian playwright and novelist Mikhail Bulgakov (1891–1940) is that though he wrote sev ... (read more)

'Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill: Zahra Newman’s searing portrait of Billie Holiday' by Ian Dickson

ABR Arts 18 September 2023
What makes the physical and mental disintegration of famous performers so compulsively fascinating to so many people? The breakdown of a talented artist, usually female, brought down by her insecurities and the betrayal and abandonment of those close to her, usually male, is a trope that is endlessly trotted out to and repeatedly lapped up by audiences. The unhappy finales of Judy Garland, Marilyn ... (read more)

'The Chairs: Words words words' by Ian Dickson

ABR Arts 11 September 2023
The French-Romanian playwright Eugène Ionesco’s ambivalent attitude towards the power, even the usefulness, of language played out throughout his career. Speaking of Jean-Paul Sartre, Ionesco (1909–94) said that he ‘wrote an important book called Words and there he noticed that he had talked too much all his life. That words are not saying anything.’ Later, Ionesco claimed ‘[w]ords no l ... (read more)

Ian Dickson reviews 'The Letters of Oscar Hammerstein II', edited by Mark Eden Horowitz

May 2023, no. 453 24 April 2023
In the history of the American musical, Oscar Hammerstein II (1895–1960) presents us with what his Siamese king would have described as a puzzlement. Lacking the sophistication of Cole Porter, the verbal dexterity of Lorenz Hart, and the sly wit of Ira Gershwin, his lyrics, taken out of context, can seem hokey and sentimental. Will he ever be forgiven for The Sound of Music’s ‘lark who is le ... (read more)

'Into the Woods: Happily never after with Stephen Sondheim' by Ian Dickson

ABR Arts 24 March 2023
‘Into the woods to get the thing /That makes it worth the journeying.’ Belvoir is luring us into the dark mysterious forest, the setting of so many fairy tales and of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s 1987 musical, Into the Woods. After the rather surprising success of their first collaboration, Sunday in The Park with George (1984), considered by many, at the time, to be too esoteric for ... (read more)

'The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia? Edward Albee’s ‘comedy of horrors’' by Ian Dickson

ABR Arts 06 March 2023
In a tastefully designed, beautifully arranged living room, a couple are engaging in the sort of mildly erotic verbal jousting in which long and happily married couples might indulge. They are Martin Gray, a Pritzker Prize-winning architect, just turned fifty, who has been chosen to design a futuristic, two-hundred-billion-dollar World City and his, in his words, bright, resourceful, intrepid wife ... (read more)