The Demons and Devils of Van Diemen’s Land

The Diemenois
JW Clennett
Graphic Novel
Hunter Publishers
December 2015
Hardback
$39.95

CoverDiemenois-841x1024Like anyone who survived the same public school education that I did, I’d hazard to say I know more about ancient Egypt, dinosaurs, and the social and political environments that led to the first and second world wars than I do about Australian history.

What I do remember of my schooling on Australia’s history can be listed thusly:

Pangaea, Gondwanaland, Megafauna, Dreamtime, human fire-clearing practice leading to the evolution of fire-dependent flora, Abel Tasman, First Fleet, Convicts, Burke and Wills.

Vicious colonisation, genocide, bloody massacres were mentioned, sure, but in a kind of blink-and-you´ll-miss-the-whole-apartheid-thing way. It’s enough to suspect some sort of government conspiracy of silence on our shameful past. Hmm. Continue reading

Rumination on the Echoes of Art and Life and Memory

The Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of Mr. Punch (20th Anniversary Edition)
Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Dave McKean
Bloomsbury
Nov 2015, $29.99

mr_punchThe early Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean graphic novel, The Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of  Mr. Punch, is one of those pieces of work that I’d never quite got around to reading. Both Gaiman and McKean are prolific in their works, and given their large bodies of work, there will almost certainly be the odd story that slips a reader by. Mr. Punch would be one such story for me. We are, however, at the 20th Anniversary of Mr. Punch, and Bloomsbury have brought out a lovingly remastered edition to celebrate. This seems as good a time as any to acquaint oneself with the graphic novel in question.

Continue reading

The King of Infinite Space

Hamlet
Nicki Greenberg
Allen & Unwin
2010

Hamlet+coverOne of the fastest selling seasons of Hamlet in Britain came to a close only a few hours ago. The National Theatre’s record breaking performances at the Barbican were helped along by the pulling power of Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch playing the eponymous role.

And while some poor sad bitter critics may have been lamenting that the audiences were not true theatre goers but merely (merely?) blindly screeching fangirls (and boys), the truth is, even if it was via the attraction of a major star, it brought an entirely fresh new audience to the experience of live theatre and perhaps has inspired them to see more. A win for theatre I would say, and every subsequent play one of those first timers sees from here on in is a fine—if invisible—middle finger to those critics who have nothing better to do than to harp and moan over the “death of theatre”. Continue reading

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