Ally Morgan: Not Today – Theatre Review

Anything I write from this point on will never be as articulate or as powerful as Ally Morgan’s stellar writing in ‘Not Today’. But I can write about how articulate and powerful her writing is. I won’t lie and say the idea of Climate Change hasn’t kept me up at night. The overwhelming anxiety where our small efforts to change the world seem like nothing, yet we keep trying. Unable to sleep and feeling powerless, you just lie in bed alone with your thoughts, staring at the ceiling.

The stage set up is simple, a silver platform where a green couch, floor lamps and an impressive collection of instruments sit. As the stage-lights dim, Ally zooms from behind the light blue backdrop, jumping onto the silver platform. She’s already so charming and spellbinding the audience can’t take their eyes off her, as she starts playing a song on her keyboard that I would Shazam under other circumstances.

We are thrown straight into her world, the anxiety of Climate Change and her drive to save the world with the power of the theatre. The story begins with a psychologist appointment, that’s taken the relatable several weeks, a meditation session starts, and the brilliance of ‘Not Today’ kicks into high gear.

The songs she’s crafted fit into her story so perfectly, that none of the songs ever feel forced or contrived. Ally has successfully managed to write songs that are sweet and cheerful but never saccharine, which keep the story flowing, switching between her multiple instruments, with her talents that just keep adding up.

As ‘Not Today’ progresses, Ally’s psychologist appointment moves past climate anxiety into fears of death with one of the most realistic portrayals of not only mental illness, but the way it feels to the individual person. So often mental health is portrayed as a person sitting in a dark room unable to leave their bed, and while this can be true, Ally puts a spotlight on the side that is very rarely displayed – the reality of living with mental illness, coming to terms with it and not feeling any shame.

Her recounting of her experience as a hospital clown for young children is easily one of the most powerful moments of the whole show. Her story of a blue haired boy had several audience members crying silent tears. I’m still truly moved by her story, how she put such a personal story on display and broke through any barriers the audience may have felt before. The way everyone was laughing one minute, to having to comfort each other the next as Ally shared about her connection to this young boy was compelling. Few performers have this kind of emotional power over a crowd and having watched Ally Morgan for close to an hour, you want to hear every story she has to tell, just so she stays on stage for just a little bit longer.

As the show came to a close, the little pink flyers on our seats made more sense with simple lyrics, “We are here, and we will die someday. Not Today. Not Today”. We were asked to sing along for the final song with these lyric sheets and watching and singing with different demographics of the audience was truly moving.

What Ally Morgan has created with ‘Not Today’ is undeniably powerful. I went into the venue amused because I was about to see a play about Climate Change at the same venue as Kath and Kel in the classic Kath & Kim episode ‘Environment’. But I left the venue almost speechless, almost unable to express the wonderful show I had just seen. And I started thinking as I made my way home, that if more people were as candid as Ally Morgan – change can happen.

Ally Morgan‘s Not Today’ is playing at Theatre Works until the 30th of April.
For more information and ticketing, visit:
https://www.theatreworks.org.au/program/not-today

Photography by Cameron Grant, Parenthesy.

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