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Susan Lever

Susan Lever

Susan Lever is the author of David Foster: The Satirist of Australia (Cambria Press, 2008) and general editor of Cambria Press’s Australian Literature Series. Her most recent book is Creating Australian Television Drama: A screenwriting history (2020).

Susan Lever reviews 'The Glasshouse' by Natalie Scott

December 1985–January 1986, no. 77 01 December 1985
At a time when novels by women must run the gauntlet of feminist criticism it is surprising to find one which is prepared to discuss love and female dependence without any deference to feminism. Natalie Scott makes it clear that her heroine lives in ‘liberated’ times but she insists that the need for love remains a fundamental human weakness or strength. Furthermore, she is not afraid to link ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'Artful Histories: Modern Australian autobiography' by David McCooey

July 1996, no. 182 01 June 1996
Artful Histories represents that extraordinary achievement – a learned critical study, based on a thesis, which is exhilarating to read. While it covers the expected ground, with careful accounts of Australian autobiographies of various types, it also addresses a core problem of current literary debate – the relative status of different literary genres, and the interrelation between writing an ... (read more)

Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam (Belvoir St Theatre)

ABR Arts 11 February 2020
I made the mistake of rereading Peter Goldsworthy’s 1993 novella before seeing Steve Rodgers’ adaptation of Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam at Belvoir St Theatre, so I knew the play’s advertised surprise ending and may have been resistant to its emotional charge. At its première production for National Theatre of Parramatta at the Riverside Theatre in 2018, it was said to reduce audiences to t ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'Testostero' by David Foster

April 1987, no. 89 01 April 1987
David Foster is obsessed with opposites. He likes to play polarities of place and value against each other: in The Pure Land he contrasted Katoomba and Philadelphia, the sentimental and the intellectual; in Plumbum he put Canberra against Calcutta, the rational against the spiritual. At a talk in Canberra several years ago, he commented that it was the symmetry of the words Canberra and Calcutta t ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'In Whom We Trust' by John Clanchy

January–February 2020, no. 418 16 December 2019
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has revealed systemic mistreatment of vulnerable children over decades. Though these crimes have not been the exclusive province of the Catholic Church, its education system has brought more children into intimate care by religious orders, and even those never abused have observed the tics of brutality in some of their teacher ... (read more)

Titus Andronicus (Bell Shakespeare)

ABR Arts 02 September 2019
What can you do with Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, a play full of murder, mutilation, and rape, culminating in a mother eating a pie filled with her sons’ ground-up body parts? For centuries it was dismissed as the early aberration of a genius, a sop to the bloodthirst of Elizabethan audiences (the play may have been performed as early as 1590). Since Julie Taymor’s film Titus (1999), it h ... (read more)

The Torrents (Sydney Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 22 July 2019
Anyone with an interest in Australia’s drama history is likely to have some curiosity about Oriel Gray’s play The Torrents, joint winner of a Playwright Advisory Board prize in 1955 alongside Ray Lawler’s ground-breaking Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. Unlike Lawler’s play, it was not performed at the time. According to the current producers, it has had only one other professional producti ... (read more)

I'm Not Running (National Theatre)

ABR Arts 26 October 2018
Anyone who saw Neil Armfield’s production of David Hare’s Stuff Happens at the Seymour Centre back in 2005 would surely look forward to a new collaboration between the director and author with keen anticipation. Stuff Happens was largely verbatim theatre, with actors speaking the words of the main political players during the invasion of Iraq as Hare imagined Tony Blair, George W. Bush, Colin ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'Richard Flanagan: New critical essays' edited by Robert Dixon

August 2018, no. 403 25 July 2018
With The Narrow Road to the Deep North (2013), Richard Flanagan became Australia’s third winner of the prestigious Man Booker Prize for Fiction, leading many people to pick up his novels for the first time and to look for some critical support in reading them. After my own review of the novel in SRB, I was bailed up by friends – many of whom had read it in book groups – to report on lively d ... (read more)

Antony and Cleopatra (Bell Shakespeare)

ABR Arts 13 March 2018
Antony and Cleopatra (first performed circa 1607) is one of Shakespeare’s most poetic plays, full of imagery of exotic Egypt with its crocodiles and serpents, its River Nile and, of course, Enobarbus’s extravagant speech describing Antony’s first sighting of its queen: ‘The barge she sat in, like a burnished throne/ Burned on the water ...’ It also has one of the strongest and most deman ... (read more)
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