top of page

Not Now, Not Ever: A Parliament of Women - Belvoir's 25A Theatre (NSW)

Written and Directed by Margaret Thanos.


Reviewed by Justin Clarke

Belvoir St Theatre (Downstairs), Surry Hills

Until 31st March, 2024


A superb display of carefully coordinated farcical chaos that reaches for the heights of Mount Olympus, but never quite reaches. Go for the satire, stay for the Goat.


Queen Hades Productions explodes into the downstairs theatre of Belvoir to bring together carefully choreographed chaos aiming to spear a Zeus-sized lightning bolt at misogyny and sexism within Australian politics. Director Margaret Thanos, hot off a sell out season of her approach of Timon of Athens with Sport for Jove, is once more at play here, bringing together a mix of new and familiar faces, assets and what I now title “Thanos Favourites” in her productions. It all comes together in superbly comedic fashion, even if it doesn’t quite hit the dizzying heights of previous Queen Hades works.


With the cast collaborating together on Not Now, Not Ever: A Parliament of Women, there are a multitude of elements at play here that bring Aristophanes’ ancient Greek Comedy Assemblywomen into modern society. First written and performed in 391BC, a young woman, Praxagora, convinces the rest of the women in her Greek hometown to infiltrate the Greek parliament disguised as men, wherein more work can be done. Whether you want to view this as satire by Aristophanes or not, the point remains that men in Parliament don’t tend to get a heck of a lot done nearly 2000 years later.


Thanos and the cast bring this ancient text to modern day Australia, as Greek Gods Zeus (Rachael Colquhoun-Fairweather) and Athena (Richard Hilliar) go head to head for the control of the Pantheon of Olympus. Mediated by the subdued Hermes (Clay Crighton), the pair each choose a champion to win the next election down on earth, which just so happens to be in Australian politics. Prax (Emma O’Sullivan) becomes Athena’s chosen victor, as Zeus bets a woman couldn’t possibly win the election. What follows is a suitably uproarious comedy of mishaps, misogyny and heightened satire that targets everything from parliamentary elections, gender identity and big business corporations. 


Queen Hades' 'Not Now, Not Ever: A Parliament of Women'. Images by Clare Hawley


Aloma Barnes’ costume design is a standout in this production. Combining elements of drag, queer comedy, Greek Gods and farcical characters is no mean feat. The result of which is a gorgeous kaleidoscopic feast on stage, making each character explode with life. From Zeus’ slicked back white hair and embroidered suit (a “Thanos Favourite”), to Athena’s glittering blue and purple makeup, all the way to Auntie’s (Ava Madon) Play School-esque colour design of frills, there is so much fun to be had in the costumes alone. 


Angus Evans’ sound design (a “Thanos Favourite”) is once more outrageously encapsulating here. Drifting in from subtle underscores over heated arguments, to a full blown dance number, Evans is never spare of energy in his creations. Pairing well with this is Saint Clair’s lighting design, bringing a cavalcade of colours to make Barnes’ costumes pop and fizzle on stage, as well as offering moments of sensuality and character exposure.


Set against a design of cardboard, there are some ingenious creations at play here. Right down to brass rings and lightning bolts made of cardboard, set designer Jess Zlotnick shows how versatile the abundant material can be. But ultimately, the dramaturgical reasoning for its use was lost in the folds, was it a comment towards the budgets of independent theatre? Or is it a reference to the age old tale of politics and misogyny on display?


Thanos is throwing every skill she’s learned at the stage, showing a technical degree of skill and coordination to bring farcical and satirical comedy to great heights.

As Prax, O’Sullivan is at her best here. Having seen her trajectory in recent years, this is the largest role I’ve seen her play, and she pulls it off with marvellous zest and energy. There’s a fragility and assertiveness to her Prax that plays off throughout, heightened moreso when donning the disguise of Manfred Manuelle for the election. 


Colquhoun-Fairweather and Hilliar play superbly off each other as the father and daughter Gods desperately seeking the throne of Olympus. Thank goodness Colquhoun-Fairweather was removed of fake beard and hair, as her facial expressions showed both the greed and manipulation, amongst the horniness, of the Greek God himself. Hilliar chewed up the scenery as Athena, her desperation to win washing over everything she touched, but oddly was without much of a character arc by the end of the play.


Matt Abotomey, Clay Crighton, Ava Madon (underused in my opinion), Hannah Raven and Idam Sondhi each gave energy and exuberance to their characters onstage. From Abotomey’s husband - who came into his own towards the second act - through to Crighton’s intermediary Hermes and Sondhi’s physically fantastic postures, there was clearly much fun being had.


But it was Lib Campbell’s goat Gora who stole the heart of the show. Who knew a goat could be both loveable, endearing and superbly filthy all at the same time? Campbell’s ultimate commitment to her insane character gave the level of stakes the show required. It’s a bravura performance that has to be seen in all its ridiculously joyful glory.


The collaborative approach however, may just be Not Now, Not Ever’s weakest point. To use a cliche, there are too many cooks in the kitchen, which ultimately buries the message that Thanos and the cast wanted to highlight. Is the show about gender identity? Big businesses hold on the little guy? Misogyny in politics? Familial relationships as old as Greece itself? There’s a lot going on here that could have been left in the editing process, which was also seen in stories that were left underdeveloped, or unresolved entirely.


Led by a director with a clear vision, and stolen by a foul mouthed goat

With Not Now, Not Ever, Thanos is throwing every skill she’s learned at the stage, showing a technical degree of skill and coordination to bring farcical and satirical comedy to great heights. There’s the usual “Thanos Favourites” including raunchy sex scenes and fist pumping dance numbers, as well as the political and social themes running throughout. 


What audiences are left with is a laugh a minute wild journey that has a lot to say. Backed by a cast that gives everything to each moment, there is much fun to be had here, even if it doesn’t all work cohesively towards its larger goal. Led by a director with a clear vision, and stolen by a foul mouthed goat, Not Now, Not Ever: A Parliament of Women holds much appeal to those with a tendency for farcical satire of the Greek variety.


 

Not Now, Not Ever: A Parliament of Women


CAST

MATT ABOTOMEY

LIB CAMPBELL

RACHAEL COLQUHOUN-FAIRWEATHER

CLAY CRIGHTON

RICHARD HILLIAR

AVA MADON

EMMA O’SULLIVAN

HANNAH RAVEN

IDAM SONDHI


CREATIVES

MARGARET THANOS. WRITER/DIRECTOR

GRACE VALERIE-LYNETTE. PRODUCER

JESS ZLOTNICK. DRAMATURG/SET DESIGN

JASON JEFFRIES. ASSISTANT PRODUCER

ALOMA BARNES COSTUME DESIGNER

ANGUS EVANS. COMPOSER

SAINT CLAIR. LIGHTING DESIGNER

CAITY COWAN. STAGE MANAGER




Comments


PUT YOUR SHOW HERE!

Support Our Writers

Buy Me A Coffee Logo
Theatre Thoughts Podcast Alternative Logo

Theatre News

bottom of page