Review by Antonia Korn
Ally Morgan’s (almost) one woman cabaret was a fantastic show, with all the charms and quirks that we love about indie theatre, and the musical talent and storytelling of a top tier show. Ally Morgan herself, was endlessly charismatic and entertaining, and with ease, achieved the main goal of every performer: to entertain and move her audience.
The show, comprised entirely of Morgan’s original songs, wonderfully interwove the funny, the emotional, the absurd and the serious, which lent itself to a full-bodied and thought-provoking performance. As my companion said, “If that was 2 hours, it went by so quickly it was that good.” Morgan seemed to perfectly portray the anxieties that younger generations have around trying to save the planet and do right in the grand scheme of things, as well as trying to simply survive as an individual- especially through a pandemic, job loss, grief, questioning of sexuality and mental health. Progressing through all these issues with an unwavering honesty and rawness, Morgan invited the audience to have a peek into her mind and how she sees the world and refused to shy away from presenting the parts of her psyche, that many would balk at revealing to an audience. She allowed us in and as a result we reciprocated, resulting in being moved with such skill- one song we were crying and the next we were full-blown, belly laughing.
The main crux of the show was surrounding the perils of living and growing up through a pandemic as well as, the anxiety and deep-seated fear of the climate crisis. The exhausting exercise of trying “to save the world between shifts”. While all the original songs were fantastic, my personal favourite (and the inception point for the show as a whole) “Quiet Australians” was such a beautiful, poignant expression of honesty about how hard young people are trying their best to save the world and set up our own lives- with all the personal perils that entails- but those efforts constantly not feeling sufficient before we burn ourselves out. Despite the gravity of the main premise, the show never gets stuck in a depressive rut but always brings back the joy and the quirkiness.
The addition of the live band was a real treat and added a lot to the overall experience. The musicians were incredibly talented and the way they and Ally interacted on stage felt so natural and organic, it felt like just watching musicians hang out and jam together- especially for one of the final, more intimate love songs. The audience interactions were well-executed and thoughtful, bringing another level of connection between the us and the performers.
The set design was quite simple and at first had me worried, but as the show progressed, I realised that anything else would have been ‘too much’ and not appropriate for the type of show this was. The chosen set design allowed us to focus mainly on Ally and the story she was leading us along, as well as the quality of the songs and the lyrics within them.
Simply put, Not Today was a delightful but incredibly touching show that was both entertaining to watch and meaningful enough to do what all good art should: promote discussion and honest confrontation of beliefs- about the self and others- in its audience. With the extra treat of just being such a fun show to be apart of.