Ian Dickson

Ian Dickson

Ian Dickson has degrees in drama from Yale and the University of New South Wales, and is the co-author of the musical Better Known As Bee.

Ian Dickson reviews 'Mike Nichols: A life' by Mark Harris

May 2021, no. 431 26 April 2021
Ian Dickson reviews 'Mike Nichols: A life' by Mark Harris
On 8 November 2015, a year after his death, a celebration was held for Mike Nichols in the IAC building in New York. The audience included the likes of Anna Wintour, Stephen Sondheim, Tom Stoppard, Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Meryl Streep. Seventy-six years earlier, less than a mile away, seven-year-old Igor Mikhail Peschkowsky walked down the SS Bremen’s gangplank into America and a ne ... (read more)

Appropriate: A triumphant production of a challenging play

ABR Arts 25 March 2021
Appropriate: A triumphant production of a challenging play
Picasso is supposed to have claimed that ‘good artists borrow, great artists steal’. The young American playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins does something slightly different. He, as it were, appropriates, taking well-known theatrical styles and adapting them to his own use. He gets old theatrical forms – the minstrel show in Neighbors (2010) or nineteenth-century melodrama in An Octoroon (2014 ... (read more)

Jali | Griffin Theatre

ABR Arts 17 March 2021
Jali | Griffin Theatre
Jali is a West African term for a storyteller – someone who can use words, music, or dance to make sense of the world for themselves and their audience. The young stand-up comic Oliver Twist, in his first theatrical piece, is proving himself to be very much a chronicler in that tradition. Twist’s story is one that has become distressingly familiar. Born in Rwanda to Tutsi/Hutu parentage at th ... (read more)

The Picture of Dorian Gray (Sydney Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 30 November 2020
The Picture of Dorian Gray (Sydney Theatre Company)
The advance publicity for Kip Williams’s production of Oscar Wilde’s novella The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) makes much of Wilde’s aphorism ‘The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.’ In the past, Williams has found the fashionable mix of video and live performance pioneered by the Belgian director Ivo van Hove seductive. He has used it brilliantly in his production of ... (read more)

Ian Dickson reviews 'The Lives of Lucian Freud: Fame, 1968–2011' by William Feaver

December 2020, no. 427 25 November 2020
Ian Dickson reviews 'The Lives of Lucian Freud: Fame, 1968–2011' by William Feaver
To start with the broadest of generalisations, artists’ biographies can be divided into three types: those that concentrate on the work; those that take the life as their focus; and the ‘life and times’ volumes that attempt to place the artist in her social and political context. And then there is William Feaver’s massive 1,248-page, two-volume extravaganza on Lucian Freud (1922–2011). ... (read more)

Wonnangatta (Sydney Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 14 October 2020
Wonnangatta (Sydney Theatre Company)
Theatre emerged from ritual and the present circumstances have introduced new rites of passage for those who take part in the ceremony. Donning your mask, you perform the cleansing of hands, stand at attention as your temperature is taken, and enter an eerily under-populated lobby in which other masked figures attempt to keep a prescribed distance as they head for the inner sanctum. Once inside it ... (read more)

'Epiphany: The education of an operamane' by Ian Dickson

June–July 2020, no. 422 27 May 2020
It is a truth, maybe not universally acknowledged but a truth nonetheless, that epiphanies tend to happen earlier rather than later in one’s life. Soul-shattering, life-changing experiences occur more regularly when the soul is tender enough to be shattered and the life malleable enough to be changed. I am an excited seven-year-old. Today I am going to what I have been informed is London’s gr ... (read more)

The Deep Blue Sea (Sydney Theatre Company)

ABR Arts 10 February 2020
The Deep Blue Sea (Sydney Theatre Company)
The seismic shift which occurred in the British theatre with the success of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger in 1956 left Terrence Rattigan high and dry. Writing for the ideal audience member he dubbed ‘Aunt Edna’ – a very different creature from her flamboyant Australian namesake – he supposedly fashioned plays that were designed to entertain the middle classes without disturbing them ... (read more)

Farnace (Pinchgut Opera)

ABR Arts 06 December 2019
Farnace (Pinchgut Opera)
Always read the fine print. At the base of the program for Pinchgut Opera’s production of Antonio Vivaldi’s Farnace (1727) it reads: ‘The edition of Farnace used in these performances is by Renzo Bez and Diego Fasolis, adapted with insertion arias selected by Erin Helyard.’ Translated this means that what the audience is watching is a version of the opera in which many of the arias are rep ... (read more)

'Krapp's Last Tape' (Red Line Productions/Old Fitz Theatre)

ABR Arts 02 December 2019
'Krapp's Last Tape' (Red Line Productions/Old Fitz Theatre)
‘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 d ... (read more)