Michael Morley

A Midsummer Night's Dream 

Adelaide Festival
by
01 March 2021

Comparisons can be odious, odorous, even otiose. Yet while I have lost count of the number of takes on Shakespeare’s play I have seen over the years – theatre, ballet, modern dance, knockabout collages of dance, movement and music, and opera – five stay in the memory. In the order in which I saw them, they are: the first revival at Sadler’s Wells in the mid-1960s of Britten’s 1960 opera, which marked the beginning of James Bowman’s stellar career; Max Reinhardt’s 1935 film; Peter Brook’s version of the play, which redefined it for not just one but several generations; Elijah Moshinsky’s powerfully evocative take on the opera from 1978 (also starring Bowman); and Declan Donnellan’s inspired and laugh-out-loud shaking up of the work for the Donmar Warehouse in the mid-1980s.

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The voice on the telephone, not brusque or curt, came straight to the point. ‘How long are you in London for? And would you be free for dinner this Friday?’

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There seems to be an ever-growing – I almost wrote market, but think I mean obsession – these days for the family history, the personal memoir, the parading of how I spent my childhood/adolescence/ protest years/personal and economic growth decades, before-finally-contributing-to-the-joy-of-past-and-future-generations-by-listing-my-achievements. Many of these are self-published. Kristin Williamson’s biography of her playwright husband is not, but perhaps should have been.

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Requiem 

Adelaide Festival
by
06 March 2020

It may be that some members of the audience at Romeo Castellucci’s highly individual take on, and response to, Mozart’s Requiem, experience something similar. I certainly am aware from conversation (and observation) that some audience members did indeed respond to the stage images with closed eyes. But in doing so they denied themselves the opportunity to see and respond to some of the most evocative, poetic, and, yes, musical images seen on the Festival Theatre stage since Bo Holten’s Operation Orfeo back in the 1990s.

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The Doctor 

Almeida Theatre/Adelaide Festival
by
03 March 2020

No one would maintain that Schnitzler’s original text does not need cutting and shaping for an updated presentation of the issues he was concerned with back in 1912. (One of the drollest observations about Schnitzler’s style comes from Franz Kafka, who noted that ‘it is replete with the quavering hollowness of literary pretensions’, though he was speaking specifically of Schnitzler’s late works.) But a play like Professor Bernhardi is no more nor less overwritten than some of Shaw. Here, at every turn, Icke’s ‘re-imagining’ (and his direction) opts for crude juxtaposition, where Schnitzler’s outlining of the issues can accommodate both subtlety and directness, ambiguity and clarity. And Icke’s simplification is reflected in the performances of most of the actors

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In the program note for his most recent play, Belfast playwright David Ireland claims that ‘he became a playwright after being unemployed and unemployable as an actor for three years, despite having trained as an actor for three years at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama ... 

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If one were tempted to cast round for a theme or a set of motifs that could be discerned from this year’s Adelaide Festival, it might be Rilke’s ‘Who speaks of victory? To endure/survive is all.’ Not as a default position, but as a celebration of those left behind, of those who tell the stories of those who have struggled and ...

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This study, which first appeared in German in 2011, was hailed at the time as definitive: properly so, as it incorporates so many aspects from so many areas of research. It marks a significant contribution to such fields as musicology, cultural history, the relationship between art and politics – not just in the Nazi era, but the periods preceding that, which saw ...

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

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In an interview from 1978, the year of Nicolas Nabokov's death (he was born in 1903 in Lubcza, now in Belarus), which is included in the epilogue to this volume, Isaiah Berlin summed up some of the qualities of the cosmopolitan figure he seems to have considered his best friend:

He was a very cultivated man: I found him to be one of the most civiliz ...
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