For youngsters like 26-year-old Sydney-based performer Ally Morgan, global warming is a particularly pressing concern. As millennials don’t typically have much political power (but there is an election coming!), they need to be creative in their activism.
Morgan started this process with her 2020 song Quiet Australian on opposing climate inaction. The multi-instrumentalist has grown this into a plan to “save the world from climate change”, with some original songs, in her MICF 2022 offering: Not Today.
The plan’s only hitch is that climate-change anxiety is keeping Morgan from writing her world-saving show. However, by consulting a psychologist via a laptop, Morgan can “manifest a show in an indie theatre” which will force her to get on with the job.
Whilst the show undeniably has assets, this opening night had an unfortunate combination of challenges. Morgan has a pleasant voice capable of folk-pop-country stylings, yet lower notes were noticeably less powerful.
These were often drowned out by an insensitively loud backing track. (Sound issues are regrettably common at festivals, taking the shine off shows such as Flo & Joan’s MICF 2022 Spiegeltent outing.)
I suspect that this obscured some comedic lines, costing the audience some laughs. At other times audience laughter made it difficult to hear aspects of Morgan’s dialogue with her pre-recorded psychologist. Introducing some strategic pauses will surely increase our ability to absorb the work’s nuances.
Possibly due to those overshadowed comedic opportunities and the quite serious subject matter, the show tilts more towards “Dramedy” than “Comedy”. Setting this aside, there’s a lot to enjoy here. When in a more upbeat mood, long-limbed Morgan brings a manic waif energy to the stage.
At times, such as when witnessing her explore various anxieties through song, we could feel that we were watching something truly special. And, Morgan’s flashes of self-awareness about life and career choices delivered some good comedy payoffs.
If pandemic lockdowns have sharpened your hunger for quality works by Indie performers, companies, and venues, this collaboration between Sydney’s Rogue Projects and Theatre Works is likely to satisfy. Quite unrelated to extreme weather events, we can expect Morgan to make some big waves in the near future.
Theatre Works, 14 Acland Street, St Kilda
Performance: Thursday 21 April 2022
Season continues to 30 April 2022
Information and Bookings: www.theatreworks.org.au
Image: Ally Morgan in Not Today – photo by Cameron Grant
Review: Jason Whyte