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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.

Ian Dickson reviews 'Master Class' (Left Bauer Productions)

ABR Arts 13 August 2015
Cunningly promoted by her recording company, EMI, the Callas myth took off after her death on 16 September 1977 and continues to resonate to this day. Undeterred by Franco Zeffirelli’s excruciating screen homage to the diva, Callas Forever (2002), Callas projects starring Meryl Streep and Noomi Rapace have been announced. Like most myths, this one does not really survive close scrutiny. We are ... (read more)

The Present (Sydney Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 10 August 2015
In 1881, armed with the confidence of youth, the twenty-one-year-old Anton Pavlovich Chekhov fronted up to the Maly Theatre in Moscow, at that time one of the foremost theatres in the world, in order to present its leading actress, Maria Yermolova, with a copy of his recently written and probably first play. The great lady promptly returned the manuscript, which the disappointed young author equal ... (read more)

Mother Courage and Her Children (Belvoir St Theatre)

ABR Arts 15 June 2015
As our government prepares to increase our involvement in a Middle Eastern disaster we should never have taken part in, Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children seems more pertinent than ever. The theatre of Bertolt Brecht has always presented a conundrum to directors. In his theory of epic theatre, Brecht declared that, in Martin Esslin’s words, ‘the audience is to be confronted with a bo ... (read more)

Fly Away Peter (Sydney Chamber Opera)

ABR Arts 07 May 2015
Of all the many projects commemorating the centenary of World War I and the Anzacs’ contribution to it, the creation of an opera from David Malouf’s magnificent novella Fly Away Peter (1981) would seem to be one of the most demanding. The story follows the young, bird-obsessed Jim Saddler from the almost prelapsarian idyll of the untouched Gold Coast hinterland to the muddy hell of the trenc ... (read more)

Ian Dickson reviews 'Endgame'

ABR Arts 10 April 2015
The fact that two of Australia’s major theatre companies are performing Endgame concurrently is, one hopes, merely a coincidence and not a reflection on the national Zeitgeist, for the play is one of the bleakest works in Samuel Beckett’s not exactly sunny canon. If Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot cling desperately to some hope, their counterparts in Endgame, Hamm and Clov, have lon ... (read more)

Suddenly Last Summer (Sydney Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 19 February 2015
In May 1957, with some trepidation, Tennessee Williams went into analysis under the care of the fashionable psychiatrist Lawrence Kubie, known to his distinguished clientèle as Dr Sugar. Kubie insisted that Williams should temporarily separate from his partner of the time, Frank Merlo, and give up drink and writing. With a sense of relief, Williams banished the tempestuous Merlo to Florida and ev ... (read more)

Ian Dickson reviews 'Tennessee Williams: Mad pilgrimage of the flesh' by John Lahr

December 2014, no. 367 01 December 2014
For a man who has repeatedly been described as America’s greatest playwright, Tennessee Williams’s reputation has fluctuated as wildly as his notorious mood swings. In the decade after the war he was celebrated. ‘Mr. Williams is the man of our time who comes closest to hurling the actual blood and bone of life onto the stage,’ wrote Walter Kerr of the first production of Cat on a Hot Tin R ... (read more)

Miracle City

ABR Arts 27 October 2014
As I sat through the standing ovation that greeted the performance of the Nick Enright/Max Lambert musical Miracle City that I attended, I wondered why it is that some productions seem to get a free ride. Few regular theatre-goers would disagree with the contention that we are at present in Australia living through a golden age of acting talent. The huge boost in arts funding by the Whitlam govern ... (read more)

The Glass Menagerie

ABR Arts 29 September 2014
When the 2014 Belvoir season was announced, The Glass Menagerie looked like a mouth-watering proposition. A director at the top of his game with triumphant productions of Angels in America (2013) and Once in Royal David’s City (2014) under his belt would combine with an exceptionally talented cast to stage Tennessee Williams’s first great theatrical success. What could go wrong? Nothing, accor ... (read more)

Children of the Sun

October 2014, no. 365 01 October 2014
By now we know what to expect from an Andrew Upton adaptation of a Russian play – brisk, overlapping dialogue with anachronistic turns of phrase and use of four-letter words. With the Sydney Theatre Company’s Uncle Vanya (2010), this approach, in combination with Támas Ascher’s brilliant production, worked superbly to blow away the miasma of gloom and torpor that usually blankets anglophone ... (read more)