Ian Dickson

Children of the Sun

Ian Dickson
Monday, 15 September 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 ...

Santa Fe Opera House 2014 Festival Season

Ian Dickson
Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Santa Fe opera house has a location as dramatic as Sydney’s. Perched on the top of a hill overlooking the town, it looks across the valley to the Sangre de Cristo mountains. What started out in 1957 as an open-air theatre has over the years grown a roof which covers the stage and auditorium, but the sides of the auditorium and back of the stage are still open ...

Hedda Gabler

Ian Dickson
Monday, 07 July 2014

Hedda Gabler (1890) occupies a somewhat schizophrenic position in Henrik Ibsen’s work. On the one hand, it is normally seen as the apotheosis of Ibsen’s realist period, his sardonic homage to the fashionable ‘well-made play’ of the time. But, on the other hand, from early in its theatrical life there have been productions which have reacted against ...

Ian Dickson revisits the Chelsea Hotel

Ian Dickson
Wednesday, 28 May 2014

In the heyday of Manhattan hotels, the Chelsea Hotel had its own special niche. The Pierre exuded wealth and exclusivity, the Plaza a sort of bourgeois glamour as the place where the bridge and tunnel crowd would throw caution to the wind and rent a corner suite for big occasions, and the Algonquin, with its round table and Hamlet the cat, radiated intellectual chic ...

Hobart Baroque

Ian Dickson
Wednesday, 02 April 2014

Hobart is the ideal place in which to have a festival. Big enough to have other attractions but small enough so that the festival becomes a major event rather than just another diversion. A walk through Battery Point, followed by a long lunch at Salamanca Place with congenial fellow festival goers, or a trip out to MONA to wander through the psyche of David Walsh ar ...

There once was a boy named Lenny
Whose talents were varied and many
So many that he was inclined
Never to make up his mind
In fact he was so gifted
He never felt uplifted
Just undefined.
Poor Lenny – ten gifts too many
The curse of being versatile.
To show how bad ...

Once in Royal David’s City

Ian Dickson
Thursday, 27 February 2014

At a time when a convicted drug smuggler is rumoured to be about to collect a fortune for her remarkably unremarkable story and when we are heading into a new round of so-called ‘culture wars’, in which an extraordinary amount of heat will be generated with precious little light accompanying it, it is refreshing to be presented with another of Michael Gow’s fo ...

Waiting for Godot

Ian Dickson
Wednesday, 27 November 2013

With aching feet, bursting bladders, and the odd carrot for sustenance, Samuel Beckett’s famous pair of tramps have shuffled on to the stage of the Sydney Theatre for an extended run, though run is hardly the apposite word for this stationary duo. Perhaps one could call it an extended slump.

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The Perfect American (English National Opera)

Ian Dickson
Monday, 24 June 2013

English National Opera audiences are notable for their complete lack of bling. On opening nights they ostentatiously dress down, in opposition to their social butterfly Covent Garden counterparts, as if to state that they are there for the opera alone. The London opening of The Perfect American, Philip Glass’s opera based on ...

The career of Marjorie Lawrence is one of the great might-have-beens of operatic history. The saga of a young Australian woman who, in an astonishingly short period of time, became a leading singer first at the Paris Opéra and then at New York’s Metropolitan and who was poised to become the Met’s prima donna assoluta in the Wagnerian repertory when disas ...