The COVID-19 pandemic has been an incredibly challenging experience and, for a lot of young people especially, the crisis also compounded other fears about employment, climate change, and the general confusion of figuring out who you are. In Not Today, Ally Morgan explores her mid-20s with a new original song cycle.
Ostensibly, Not Today is about Ally (Alexandra Morgan) trying to find a way to solve climate change but, with the help of her psychologist (Hannah Gwatkin), she quickly realises that her climate anxiety is also tied to a lot of other issues like grief, uncertainty about her career, and self-doubt. Through a series of songs, Ally discusses her queer sexuality, her dreams about moving to Byron Bay and forgetting her problems, and feelings of failure after losing her job a week after her 26th birthday.
Directed by Miranda Middleton, the production appeals to the adult adolescence of the 20s where many young people find themselves caught under the responsibilities of adulthood but without any of the perks like stable employment or housing. It’s a particularly modern experience of neo-liberal hustle culture combined with a yearning for the good-ol-days before you were aware of fear and catastrophe. The set design by Angus Konsti amplifies this in-between state with a clouds and springtime grass atmosphere that is then littered with arrows pointing in every direction. Lucia Haddad’s lighting design also uses washes of pink to create a specifically childish, girly utopian dreamscape on stage.
Supported by a small band (Gwatkin, Jack Angwin, and Brendan Paul), Morgan’s original songs were generally upbeat and quirky, falling somewhere between singer-songwriter and comedy in terms of tone. Some were more successful than others with “A Boy I Knew” standing out for its originality and the touching recount of Morgan’s relationship with a young boy she met through her hospital entertainment job. “Traffic” was another treasure for its tender and sillily morbid take on a love song.
As we all wander further into the 21st century and the chickens of climate change and economic crisis come home to roost, the road will diverge; one way to the innocent ignorance of childhood and the other to facing reality, hopefully with a realistic optimism. In this song cycle, Morgan offers at least affirmation for those new adults struggling with the decision.
Not Today ran at the Bordello Room from May 3rd – 6th as part of KXT Popupstairs Season
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