Theatre

Brian McFarlane reviews 'Balancing Acts: Behind the scenes at the National Theatre' by Nicholas Hytner

Brian McFarlane
27 October 2017

One of the most appropriate titles since Pride and Prejudice, Balancing Acts adroitly captures the drama and appeal of Nicholas Hytner’s account of his twelve years as More

Tim Byrne reviews 'Joy Ride' by John Lahr

Tim Byrne
25 February 2016

James Ley states in the introduction to his book The Critic in the Modern World (2014) that the significance of a critic 'depends on their ability to position themselves in opposition to certain prevailing tendencies'. Given the widespread shrinkage of space allot ... More

Reading Australia: 'Dimboola' by Jack Hibberd

Judith Rodriguez
24 December 2015

Dimboola's title is a great start to the play that was first performed in 1969. It belongs nowhere but in Australia. At the same time, not many people can claim to have lived there or to know someone from Dimboola. Indigenous? Maybe. And where is Dimboola? You drive through it on your way to somewhere else. It's in Victoria, out where all the roads are sign ... More

John Rickard reviews 'Why Acting Matters' by David Thomson and 'Great Shakespeare Actors' by Stanley Wells

John Rickard
30 July 2015

Why Acting Matters has on its cover the face of an ape; well, actually it’s Andy Serkis playing Caesar, ‘the top ape’ in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014). The point of this rather unexpected image from a movie not discussed in the book is, the blurb tells us, that ‘acting is baked into our primate DNA’. These two books, however, by elder ... More

Ian Donaldson reviews 'Hamlet' (Bell Shakespeare)

Ian Donaldson
22 July 2015

Hamlet belongs to the final years of Elizabeth’s reign, when the system of espionage the old queen had created through her spymaster-general, Francis Walsingham – the network of ‘watchers’, as Stephen Alford calls them in a recent brilliant study of this phenomenon – had become ... More

Mother Courage and Her Children (Belvoir St Theatre)

Ian Dickson
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 pr ... More

Reading Australia: 'The Floating World' by John Romeril

Susan Lever
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 Fa ... More

North by Northwest (Melbourne Theatre Company)

Doug Wallen
09 June 2015

In Saul Bass’s title sequence for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 film North by Northwest, diagonal and vertical lines intersect to form a grid that eventually dissolves to the façade of a New York City office building. Bringing the classic spy caper to the stage for the first time, Melbourne Theatre Company uses that visu ... More

Desley Deacon reviews 'Double-Act' by Brian McFarlane

Desley Deacon
28 May 2015

Although many attempt it, writing the biography of an actor of a previous era is fraught. They consist mainly of lists of movies or plays long forgotten. The reception of their art is recorded by critics, once all-powerful, but now unknown. Their personal life and personality are hidden behind a screen of studio publicity. Writing the lives and careers of two stars ... More

Brian McFarlane reviews 'Eugene O'Neill' by Robert M. Dowling

Brian McFarlane
29 April 2015

It seems unlikely that anyone ever emerged from the performance of an O’Neill play saying happily, ‘Laugh! I nearly died.’ Robert M. Dowling’s fine biography helps to account for this: the life behind the writing of those plays was not conducive to a hilarious outcome. To have survived the life he lived would have been remarkable enough, let alone turning ou ... More

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