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Ian Dickson

To celebrate the year’s memorable plays, films, television, music, operas, dance, and exhibitions, we invited a number of arts professionals and critics to nominate their favourites.  

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The Master & Margarita 

Belvoir St Theatre
by
20 November 2023

Don’t contradict strange gentlemen. Take special care around the George Street light rail. Watch out for flying pigs. Treat any black cat you might meet with caution, especially ones that speak to you. Woland and his satanic crew have taken up residence at Belvoir.

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In the history of the American musical, Oscar Hammerstein II (1895–1960) presents us with what his Siamese king would have described as a puzzlement. Lacking the sophistication of Cole Porter, the verbal dexterity of Lorenz Hart, and the sly wit of Ira Gershwin, his lyrics, taken out of context, can seem hokey and sentimental. Will he ever be forgiven for The Sound of Music’s ‘lark who is learning to pray’? And yet it is his works, written in collaboration with Richard Rodgers, that are constantly revived rather than the flimsier concoctions of his more favoured contemporaries. 

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Into the Woods 

Belvoir St Theatre
by
24 March 2023
Into the woods to get the thing /That makes it worth the journeying.’ Belvoir is luring us into the dark mysterious forest, the setting of so many fairy tales and of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s 1987 musical, Into the Woods. ... (read more)

The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia? 

Sydney Theatre Company
by
06 March 2023
In a tastefully designed, beautifully arranged living room, a couple are engaging in the sort of mildly erotic verbal jousting in which long and happily married couples might indulge. They are Martin Gray, a Pritzker Prize-winning architect, just turned fifty, who has been chosen to design a futuristic, two-hundred-billion-dollar World City and his, in his words, bright, resourceful, intrepid wife, Stevie. ... (read more)

Amadeus 

Red Line Productions
by
30 December 2022
Amadeus is English playwright Peter Shaffer’s most resilient work. Antonio Salieri’s battle with both his god and his rival Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has been frequently performed and revived, with actors of the calibre of Paul Scofield, Ian McKellen, and David Suchet as Salieri, and Simon Callow, Tim Curry, and Michael Sheen as Mozart. It says a lot for the play’s durability that so much of its power and pertinence can survive a production as basically misguided as the one at present in the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House. ... (read more)

To celebrate the year’s memorable plays, films, television, music, operas, dance, and exhibitions, we invited a number of arts professionals and critics to nominate their favourites.  

... (read more)

After its recent political and financial traumas, your correspondent arrived in London expecting to find a sombre, subdued city. Far from it. The Christmas lights were blazing in the West End, and on the weekends it was almost impossible to move while battling the hordes. But it was noticeable that few people were actually carrying shopping bags, and though the stores were crammed, the actual lines at the counters were remarkably short. The high-end restaurants were packed with pre-Christmas parties; after all, in London the rich you will always have with you. It may be my imagination, but the gaiety seemed slightly hysterical, as though this were a version of the duchess of Richmond’s ball – a last frolic before the onslaught. 

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A Raisin in the Sun 

Sydney Theatre Company
by
05 September 2022

In the annals of theatre history, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun (which had its première in 1959, when she was only twenty-eight) will go down as the first Broadway play written by an African-American woman and directed by an African-American man. It would have been beaten a couple of seasons earlier by Alice Childress’s Trouble in Mind if the redoubtable Childress had not refused to allow her would-be producers water down her work, which portrayed the demeaning and frustrating position of Black actors forced into endless ‘yes’m, no sir’ shuck and jive roles.

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The Letters of Thom Gunn edited by Michael Nott, August Kleinzahler, and Clive Wilmer

by
August 2022, no. 445

Of the major Anglo-American poets of the previous century, none was more transformed, at least on the surface, by the journey across the Atlantic than Thom Gunn (1929–2004). Travelling in the opposite direction, T.S. Eliot found echoes of his mid-Western emotional repression and discreet anti-Semitism in the England of his era, while W.H. Auden, who carried his world with him, was only mildly affected by his time in America.

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