Ian Dickson

Letter from Bucharest

Ian Dickson
Thursday, 12 September 2019

If one were to ask the average classical music lover to guess where, in the space of three weeks, she could hear orchestras of the calibre of the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Symphony, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Dresden Staatskapelle, and the Royal Concertgebouw, and artists of the eminence of Joyce Di Donato ...

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Life of Galileo (Belvoir St Theatre) 

Ian Dickson
Friday, 09 August 2019

You plan to present a new radical production of Hamlet. But it’s a long play and you only have a small cast. It will need a fair bit of pruning and you’ll have to lose some characters or at least reduce their importance. You will leave in the soliloquies of course, but Rosencrantz and Guildenstern can go, as can the players ...

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Lord of the Flies (Sydney Theatre Company) ★★★

Ian Dickson
Monday, 29 July 2019

It must be confessed that the advance publicity for STC’s production of Lord of the Fliesfilled this reviewer with foreboding. A perspective on William Golding’s allegory about the inherent savagery of humanity – a destructiveness that, in his words, ‘produces evil as a bee produces honey’ – which shrinks it to the malady of the moment, toxic masculinity ...

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Moby-Dick ★★★★ and Billy Budd ★★★★

Ian Dickson
Thursday, 23 May 2019

Given his towering position in the pantheon of American authors, it is surprising that the bicentenary year of the birth of Herman Melville, born on 1 August 1819 in New York, is passing with such little fanfare. However, this reviewer recently managed to catch performances of opera versions of his two most famous creations ...

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Mosquitoes (Sydney Theatre Company) ★★★★

Ian Dickson
Monday, 15 April 2019

With impeccable timing, the week the National Science Foundation published the first picture of a black hole, Sydney Theatre Company opened its production of Mosquitoes, Lucy Kirkwood’s exploration of the gulf between supposedly rational scientific knowledge and the vagaries of the human heart. Kirkwood has never been afraid of confronting big themes ...

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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 ...

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Mary Stuart ★★★

Ian Dickson
Monday, 11 February 2019

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 ...

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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 ...

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The Dance of Death (Belvoir St Theatre) ★★★★

Ian Dickson
Thursday, 15 November 2018

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 ...

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A Cheery Soul (Sydney Theatre Company) ★★★1/2

Ian Dickson
Monday, 12 November 2018

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) ...

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