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.

The Bleeding Tree (Sydney Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 14 March 2017
The Bleeding Tree (Sydney Theatre Company)
Three women are staring into space. They are dazed, in shock, not yet believing that what has just happened has actually occurred. Beneath them is the body of a man, husband and father, whom they have just murdered. So begins the wild, darkly lyrical nightmare ride that is Australian playwright Angus Cerini’s The Bleeding Tree, which won several 2016 Helpmann Awards, including Best Play and Best ... (read more)

Mark Colvin's Kidney (Belvoir St Theatre)

ABR Arts 06 March 2017
Mark Colvin's Kidney (Belvoir St Theatre)
The theatre has given us mutilation, Titus Andronicus comes to mind, and cannibalism in Thyestes and Sweeney Todd, but as far as I am aware there is no dramatic genre based on organ donorship. After Tommy Murphy’s Mark Colvin’s Kidney, this may well change. Murphy’s funny and moving play is built around a series of circumstances that would seem to have emerged from the imagination of an abs ... (read more)

Chimerica (Sydney Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 06 March 2017
Chimerica (Sydney Theatre Company)
Lucy Kirkwood, the present darling of the British critics, is a playwright who is not afraid of tackling momentous subjects. Her most recent play, The Children (2016), is a post-nuclear apocalyptic chamber piece which explores the responsibility of the baby boomer generation to those who come after. Her new play, Mosquitoes, to be presented by the National Theatre in July 2017, apparently deals wi ... (read more)

Away (Sydney Theatre Company and Malthouse Theatre)

ABR Arts 24 February 2017
Away (Sydney Theatre Company and Malthouse Theatre)
Away reached the dubious status of ‘Australian Classic’ in a remarkably short period of time. It has become so ubiquitous that I would hazard a guess that fully two thirds of the Australian audience for this production who are under thirty will have been involved with the play either as performers, audience, or students. In the keynote address (‘The Agony and the Agony’) at the National Pl ... (read more)

Theodora (Pinchgut Opera)

ABR Arts 01 December 2016
Theodora (Pinchgut Opera)
‘The Jews will not come to it because it is a Christian story and the ladies will not come because it is a virtuous one.’ George Frideric Handel’s much-quoted explanation for the lack of success of Theodora, his penultimate oratorio, may or may not be accurate, but there is no doubt about its failure. After an original run of just three performances in 1750, it was briefly revived in 1755 an ... (read more)

Faith Healer (Belvoir St Theatre)

ABR Arts 28 October 2016
Faith Healer (Belvoir St Theatre)
Brian Friel’s play Faith Healer is now considered to be, if not his masterpiece Translations (1980) probably takes that distinction at least one of his most successful works, but it took a while before its sneakily subverted approach to truth and illusion was appreciated. Its 1979 Broadway première, directed by José Quintero and starring James Mason no less, lasted a mere twenty performances. ... (read more)

Twelfth Night (Belvoir St Theatre)

ABR Arts 01 August 2016
Twelfth Night (Belvoir St Theatre)
In his introduction to the Folio Society edition of Twelfth Night, Peter Hall describes the play as a transitional work. Moving on from the light-heartedness of A Midsummer Night's Dream, in Twelfth Night Shakespeare mixes grief and cruelty in with the comedy. We are advancing towards the dark, complex world of Measure for Measure. Both Viola and Olivia are consumed with grief for the loss of thei ... (read more)

All My Sons (Sydney Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 14 June 2016
All My Sons (Sydney Theatre Company)
Arthur Miller's reputation as the writer of glum naturalistic problem dramas is undergoing a re-evaluation at present. The fashionable director Ivo van Hove's ecstatically reviewed and Tony Award-winning production of A View from the Bridge stripped the play back to reveal its archetypal classic structure, and his brilliantly staged, if infuriatingly wrong-headed, approach to The Crucible, at pres ... (read more)

The Ring Cycle (Washington National Opera / San Francisco Opera)

ABR Arts 27 May 2016
The Ring Cycle (Washington National Opera / San Francisco Opera)
At any time, Washington, DC would be an apposite place in which to stage Wagner's vast cautionary saga about the devastating effects of greed and lust for power on the human and natural world, but it is excruciatingly so at this moment. On Pennsylvania Avenue, roughly halfway between the White House and the Capitol, is a vast sign which reads COMING 2016: TRUMP. It is, however, not an election pos ... (read more)

Ian Dickson reviews 'On Sondheim: An Opinionated guide' by Ethan Mordden

May 2016, no. 381 27 April 2016
Ian Dickson reviews 'On Sondheim: An Opinionated guide' by Ethan Mordden
Do we really need another slim volume on the great Stephen Sondheim? Along with innumerable reviews, essays, and articles, we have Craig Zadan's account of Sondheim's early career, Sondheim & Co (1974), Meryle Secrest's Stephen Sondheim: A Life (1998), and the promise of a definitive biography from the critic David Benedict. If that were not enough, we also have Sondheim's conclusive reflectio ... (read more)