ABR Arts

Krapp's Last Tape 

Ian Dickson
Monday, 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 days. There were no good days at all. As his biographer Deirdre Bair puts it: ‘to yearn for anything in life, past or future, was unrealistic and a waste of time’.

... (read more)

Hansel and Gretel 

Michael Shmith
Friday, 29 November 2019

This charming, persuasive, and glowing concert performance of Hansel and Gretel, part of Andrew Davis’s final Melbourne Symphony Orchestra season before he steps down as chief conductor, more than proved (if proof is required) what an outstanding opera conductor he is. Maybe, in future seasons, when Davis returns as the orchestra’s conductor laureate, there will be more: perhaps Berg’s Lulu, another of the maestro’s favourite operas, which the MSO would perform magnificently.

... (read more)

Turandot 

Peter Rose
Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Reviewing the recent production of Madama Butterfly in Adelaide, I dwelt on Giacomo Puccini’s ceaseless search for new subjects between operas and how he considered everything from a Zola novel to the historical Marie Antoinette before settling on the story of Cio-Cio San.

... (read more)

The Beauty Queen of Leenane 

Ian Dickson
Monday, 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.

... (read more)

Kiss of the Spider Woman 

Tim Byrne
Monday, 25 November 2019

Argentine writer Manuel Puig’s 1976 novel Kiss of the Spider Woman seems to have shed most of its cultural specificity with each new iteration. Most people know it from the 1985 film that transposed the action to a Brazilian prison, for no conceivable reason other than the fact that the director was Brazilian (Héctor Babenco). The 1992 musical, with a book by Terrence McNally and music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb, goes a step further, and sets it in an undisclosed South American country – as if all political hells were the same, as long as they were subcontinental.

... (read more)

By the Grace of God 

Nicholas Bugeja
Monday, 25 November 2019

‘By the grace of God, the statute of limitations has expired’, pronounces Cardinal Philippe Barbarin (François Marthouret), the Archbishop of Lyon, at a 2016 press conference. He is, of course, referring to the historical child abuse crimes committed by Father Bernard Preynat (Bernard Verley). The press corps is understandably shaken. A journalist rises, indignant: ‘Excuse me, do you realise how shocking that is?’ Barbarin tries backpedalling, to no avail. The words are etched in history, signifying a rare moment of truth nestled among the lies, prevarications, and confidentiality agreements that the Catholic Church has often deployed to salvage its tainted reputation. Yet these tactics have had the opposite effect, further plunging the Church into a profound legal and moral crisis.

... (read more)

Packer & Sons 

Ian Dickson
Thursday, 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 that this man and his cohorts inflicted on young women, we have seen a stunning lack of empathy towards the less powerful and well connected. In the business world, some consider this to be a requisite for success. It has become something of a truism to claim, as does Jon Ronson in his controversial book The Psychopath Test, that a high percentage of CEOs have psychopathic tendencies.

... (read more)

Oil 

Laura Hartnell
Monday, 18 November 2019

It is scary to contemplate a world without oil. Whether we acknowledge it or not, oil is at the heart of our everyday lives. The Western world has depended on it for over a century. It has given us heat, light, comfort, and control. But our modernity is built on a finite resource, and we are hurtling towards a time when we will be no more oil left to tap. What will happen then?

... (read more)

Judy and Punch 

Anwen Crawford
Monday, 18 November 2019

The fictional town of Seaside is ‘nowhere near the sea’, state the opening credits of Judy and Punch. Fine, but where or even when this film is set remains a puzzle throughout. The two titular characters, puppeteers Judy (Mia Wasikowska) and Punch (Damon Herriman), speak with an Irish lilt. The rest of the townsfolk – who come bedecked in grimy pirate shirts and motley, corseted gowns – possess an array of Scottish and English accents. The film opens with the medieval spectacle of three accused witches being stoned to death, and yet Seaside also boasts a uniformed police constable. Enough eucalypts are glimpsed in the background to alert any attentive viewer to the fact that, wherever Seaside is meant to be, this film was shot in Australia – in Eltham, Victoria, as it happens. Yet no reference is made to Australia at any point.

... (read more)

Madama Butterfly 

Peter Rose
Monday, 18 November 2019

With certain artists – the luminaries, the abiders – it’s tempting to assign a kind of inevitability to their oeuvres. The musicals of Cole Porter, the satires of Jane Austen, the exiguous poems of T.S. Eliot have a kind of perfection that make them seem nonchalant. But here we run the risk of overlooking the sheer chanciness of most artistic careers – not to mention the false starts and tribulations.

... (read more)