Review by Miranda Michalowski
In ‘Not Today’, Ally Morgan, an anxious millennial, sets out to create a ground-breaking one-woman show that will single-handedly stop climate change. Although (spoiler alert), she doesn’t entirely resolve climate change in the show’s modest one-hour time frame (that would be a pretty big ask), what Ally achieves in this show is pretty spectacular.
This comedy cabaret at the Seymour Centre is a colourful and sensitive exploration of one woman's experience with loss, fear, mental health, love, and queerness in a confusing time - both the literal time of her early 20s and the time of the pandemic lockdown.
Ally performs with such vivacious energy and charm that you can’t help but fall in love with her. The show begins with Ally in her first Zoom therapy session, in which she is told to envision her ‘happy place’ and accidentally manifests a one-woman show by picturing herself inside an indie theatre - and so it goes on. The disembodied voice of this therapist is provided by Ally, creating a hilarious back-and-forth dynamic. While voiceovers and fourth-wall breaks can often fall flat, Miranda Middleton's direction makes these moments feel fresh. When Ally’s therapist asks if they can talk about some of her mental health struggles, she informs her therapist that there isn’t any time - she needs to write a show to stop climate change, and she needs to write it now.
This isn’t quite what happens. Although it might be a cliche, it still rings true - Ally learns throughout the show that to save the world, she has to care for herself first. She unpacks how grief has affected her - both in the loss of her grandmother and the loss of a 12-year-old boy in the hospital she used to work for. Ally’s song about this boy’s passing is incredibly touching, and she sings of loss with sensitivity and a poetic sense of detail.
While Ally grapples with her personal experiences beautifully in this show, it is also a call to action to protect the planet and to care for one another; a message encapsulated in ‘Quiet Australian’, a song about finding your voice and speaking out.
Credit is also due to Miranda Middleton for her stunning directorial work on this show. She has crafted a show with a moving and meaningful arc that finds moments of silliness and joy amidst sadness and fear. I won’t say too much, but the use of an urn was particularly clever.
The production and lighting design of ‘Not Today’ is also breathtaking, all credit to designers Grace Deacon and Aron Murray. Ally performs on a raised platform designed as a ‘living room’ set, but this platform sits on top of a draped sheet that resembles a cloudy sky. It’s perfectly symbolic of a story that is deeply intimate, but still shows us how we are connected, and reminds us of the beauty we need to protect.
Ally’s show is magical and worth seeing. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of her audience and share in such a moving experience because as her song tells us:
“We are here, and we will die someday. But not today. Not today.”