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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.

The Deep Blue Sea (Sydney Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 10 February 2020
The seismic shift which occurred in the British theatre with the success of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger in 1956 left Terrence Rattigan high and dry. Writing for the ideal audience member he dubbed ‘Aunt Edna’ – a very different creature from her flamboyant Australian namesake – he supposedly fashioned plays that were designed to entertain the middle classes without disturbing them ... (read more)

Farnace (Pinchgut Opera)

ABR Arts 06 December 2019
Always read the fine print. At the base of the program for Pinchgut Opera’s production of Antonio Vivaldi’s Farnace (1727) it reads: ‘The edition of Farnace used in these performances is by Renzo Bez and Diego Fasolis, adapted with insertion arias selected by Erin Helyard.’ Translated this means that what the audience is watching is a version of the opera in which many of the arias are rep ... (read more)

'Krapp's Last Tape' (Red Line Productions/Old Fitz Theatre)

ABR Arts 02 December 2019
‘Be again. (Pause) All that old misery. (Pause) Once wasn’t enough for you.’ Reminiscing is rarely a happy experience for Samuel Beckett’s characters, least of all for that most autobiographical of his creations, Krapp. In reply to a friend who had sent him a letter mentioning their good old days in pre-war Paris, Beckett brusquely wrote that there were neither good old days nor good new d ... (read more)

The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Sydney Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 25 November 2019
In a cramped, dismal cottage on the Galway–Mayo border, the theatre’s most poisonous mother–daughter relationship since Electra battled Clytemnestra is being played out on the stage of the Roslyn Packer Theatre. The Beauty Queen of Leenane is Martin McDonagh’s first and most performed play. Premièred in 1996 when McDonagh was still in his twenties, the play toured Ireland, moved on to Lo ... (read more)

Ian Dickson reviews 'Passionate Spirit: The life of Alma Mahler' by Cate Haste

December 2019, no. 417 22 November 2019
When it comes to serial muses, Alma Maria Schindler Mahler Gropius Werfel was in a class of her own. Lou Andreas-Salomé may have included Friedrich Nietzsche, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Sigmund Freud among her conquests, and Caroline Blackwood scored Lucian Freud, Robert Silvers, and Robert Lowell, but Alma’s conquests were more and varied. Antonia Fraser is supposed to have claimed that she ‘on ... (read more)

Packer & Sons (Belvoir St Theatre)

ABR Arts 21 November 2019
You would have to be living under a rock the size of Uluru not to be aware of the reassessment of the masculine sense of dominance and entitlement that is sweeping the Western world at the moment. From an American president who has openly boasted of assaulting women to a member of the royal family who, in an interview about his relationship with a notorious paedophile, blithely ignores the damage ... (read more)

Letter from Bucharest

ABR Arts 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, Yuja Wang, Evgeny Kissin, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Iestin Davies, Bry ... (read more)

Life of Galileo (Belvoir St Theatre)

ABR Arts 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 – you can just mention that Claudius has been disturbed by a play. P ... (read more)

Lord of the Flies (Sydney Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 29 July 2019
It must be confessed that the advance publicity for STC’s production of Lord of the Flies filled 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, performed by a cast that mixe ... (read more)

Moby-Dick (Chicago Opera Theatre) and Billy Budd (Royal Opera House)

ABR Arts 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, Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick (2010) and Benjamin Britten, E. ... (read more)