Ben Brooker

At least as far back as 2002, playwright Andrew Bovell was advocating for more diversity on Australia's main stages: 'I see the same actors,' he told Hilary Glow in an interview for her book Power Plays (2007), '[and] they are invariably white and Anglo-Saxon, and I am not satisfied with that as ...

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Letters to the Editor - May 2016

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Letters to the Editor in the May issue of Australian Book Review

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Desdemona (Melbourne Festival)

Ben Brooker
Tuesday, 27 October 2015

'What's in a name?' asked Juliet. Desdemona, like the rose, might have been called anything else and retained the same meanings. But for us, as we are reminded at the beginning of Desdemona, the name has become synonymous with misery and doom. The speaker is Desdemona herself. How can this be? If we know anything else about her, it is that Othello murdered ...

Arts Highlights of the Year

Robyn Archer et al.
Monday, 26 October 2015

To highlight Australian Book Review's arts coverage and to celebrate some of the year's memorable concerts, operas, films, ballets, plays, and exhibitions, we invited a group of critics and arts professionals to nominate their favourites – and to nominate one production they are looking forward to in 2016. (We indicate which works were reviewed in Arts Up ...

The Aspirations of Daise Morrow (Brink Productions)

Ben Brooker
Friday, 16 October 2015

‘Down at the Dump’ is the final story in Patrick White’s 1964 collection, The Burnt Ones. It begins with a colloquial ‘Hi!’, marooned on the story’s first line, and ends with a short, unpunctuated paragraph, intensely poetic, that recalls James Joyce at his least opaque: ‘The warm core of certainty settled stiller as driving faster the wi ...

Faust and Verdi's Requiem (State Opera of South Australia)

Ben Brooker
Monday, 14 September 2015

Good and evil, damnation and salvation, love and death, virtue and folly: State Opera of South Australia’s pairing of Gounod’s five-act grand opera Faust (fours stars) with Verdi’s momentous opera cum oratorio Requiem
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The Rivers of China (Don't Look Away)

Ben Brooker
Wednesday, 03 June 2015

Australian plays good or simply fortunate enough to make it from page to stage have historically tended to meet one of two fates: canonisation or, much more likely, limited production when still new and utter neglect thereafter. Independent Melbourne theatre company Don’t Look Away, established in 2013 under the artistic direction of Phil Rouse, specialises in exh ...

Black Diggers (three stars), written by Tom Wright, directed by Wesley Enoch, and produced by the Queensland Theatre Company, received its world première at the 2014 Sydney Festival in January. Then, the full clamour of Australia’s more than $400 m ...

Ben Brooker reviews 'The Impulse Society' by Paul Roberts

Ben Brooker
Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Paul Roberts’s The Impulse Society is the latest entry in a now familiar subtype of polemic: that of the society in decline, the symptoms of which run the gamut of Western post-industrialist ills from childhood obesity to the meltdown of global economic markets, and the syndrome of which is, at root, advanced capitalism. The lineage can be traced back throu ...

Kryptonite

Ben Brooker
Tuesday, 28 October 2014

A play in which two characters metaphorise the complex relationship between China and Australia does not sound very promising. We have seen this sort of thing before, not always happily – in the blue corner a lovably cantankerous professor representing ‘science’, in the red corner a cheery troglodyte who is ‘faith’ incarnate, and so on and on into the wors ...

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