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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 'Off the Record' by Craig Sherborne

March 2018, no. 399 22 February 2018
With a regular stream of vulgar tweets from President Trump and a tsunami of sexual harassment charges against prominent men, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the nasty side of masculine privilege in our current world. The narcissistic man who manipulates others to satisfy his sense of power has become a recognised figure in public life. Craig Sherborne’s Off the Record is a satire that relies on ... (read more)

Muriel's Wedding: The Musical (Sydney Theatre Company/Global Creatures)

ABR Arts 28 November 2017
On Monday night I attended a performance of the Australian Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty where the audience gasped in wonder as the curtains parted on the final act: three massive chandeliers were lit then raised above a cream and gold confection of a set which put Versailles to shame. On Thursday night, I was at Muriel’s Wedding: The Musical where the sets and costumes are bright and garish, a ... (read more)

The Father (Sydney Theatre Company and Melbourne Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 25 August 2017
Florian Zeller’s play The Father (Le Père, 2012) comes to us after acclaimed productions in Paris, London, and New York, where the playwright was hailed as an exciting young talent, and one of France’s finest writers. He wrote the play for the French actor Robert Hirsch, who was eighty-eight when he first performed it a few years ago. Australian audiences now have a chance to see the play for ... (read more)

Richard 3 (Bell Shakespeare)

ABR Arts 03 March 2017
The stage is open – a glossy art deco drawing room with plush velvet chairs and a chaise longue, cocktail glasses, and champagne, ready for a party. An engaging young man, dressed formally in a three-piece suit steps onstage and begins the famous speech: ‘Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York ...’ Of course, the young man is played by a woman, but that ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'Ink in Her Veins: The troubled life of Aileen Palmer' by Sylvia Martin

June–July 2016, no. 382 23 May 2016
In her new biography, Sylvia Martin tells us that Aileen Palmer wanted to be remembered as a poet. Until now, she has been best known as the elder daughter of Vance and Nettie Palmer, those beacons of Australian literature who devoted their lives to developing our literary culture. Aileen, with her sister Helen, carefully preserved the legacy of her parents, ensuring that their papers were deposit ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'Contemporary Australian Literature' by Nicholas Birns

March 2016, no. 379 24 February 2016
From time to time, Australian literature has been fortunate enough to attract the enthusiasm of international critics, from C. Hartley Grattan in the 1920s to Paul Giles, who compared Australian and American literature in his scholarly Antipodean America (2013). Nicholas Birns, a New York academic, tells us that he first encountered Australian writing back in the 1980s and has been a member of the ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'The Natural Way of Things' by Charlotte Wood

November 2015, no. 376 27 October 2015
In an isolated hut in the countryside, a young woman wakes from a drug-induced sleep to discover that she is dressed in a nineteenth-century smock. She soon finds another young woman in the same condition, and both are forced to submit to the shaving of their heads. It is contemporary Australia: kookaburras cackle outside. Are they in a prison, or a religious cult, or – as one of their fellow in ... (read more)

The Tempest (Bell Shakespeare)

ABR Arts 31 August 2015
Twenty-five years ago, John Bell undertook to create an Australian theatre company devoted to Shakespeare, a travelling repertory company that would give wide access to this wonderful legacy of our language. It harked back to a time when Shakespeare mattered so much to Australians that an actor could make a name performing Shakespeare rather than appearing in Hollywood films. At Belvoir you can se ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'The World Without Us' by Mireille Juchau

September 2015, no. 374 26 August 2015
From the opening pages of Mireille Juchau’s new novel, The World Without Us, we know we are in the hands of a poetic writer in control of language and ready to invest every sentence with resonant detail. In this scene, two of the central characters encounter each other at a river above a waterfall: Now the water was strung with reflected clouds, and the canopy, backlit, was dark as the earth. T ... (read more)

Reading Australia: 'The Floating World' by John Romeril

Reading Australia 11 June 2015
Late in 2013, the Griffin Theatre in Sydney revived John Romeril’s The Floating World as its annual production of an Australian classic. The play is now forty years old, and unfamiliar to contemporary audiences who would have been lucky to see its first performances in the tiny Pram Factory in 1974 or any of the handful of intervening performances of the play. By all accounts, that first product ... (read more)
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