Not Now, Not Ever: A Parliament of Women @ 25A

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (reviewed Friday 15 March).

Not Now, Not Ever: A Parliament of Women is political satire on the spectrum. Colourful, irreverent, kinky and outrageously funny, the play examines the dystopian world of politics in the context of a modern Greek tragedy. Part mythological, part contemporary, the play fuses these two worlds to examine what it takes for women to compete for the top job of PM.

Margaret Thanos, creator and director of the show, uses the power of theatre to inspire her work. In 2022, while directing Labyrinth, she told Sydney Theatre Reviews:

I do believe that telling stories can change the world. It’s so important in contemporary society to have a sense of empathy. From my understanding of the political sphere I see a lot of people losing compassion for each other, losing the understanding that we are all human beings. And I think that’s what stories facilitate – they facilitate observing an experience that is not your own and having a feeling about it – having sympathy or empathy for the character. And that’s why I think directing a show can be just as much a political statement as going to a protest or making an Instagram post.

Not Now, Not Ever references Julia Gillard’s famous anti-misogyny speech to parliament, as well as being inspired by a farcical Greek comedy from 391BC called Assemblywomen, by a playwright named Aristophanes. In that play, a cohort of women decide to infiltrate the not-so democratic parliament by disguising themselves as men.

This time it’s the ensembles’ voice in the limelight, and it is strong and powerful in its wry observations of Australia’s future in the wake of gender inequity, greed, corruption and corporate takeovers. Aristophanes’ sentiments about getting women into parliament are personified in the character of Manfred, Manuel Mandella Manchester, a pseudonym adopted by Prax (Emma O’Sullivan), a humble sheila from outback Australia who receives a vision of a life in politics (much like the calling of Joan of Arc to her vocation). Except there’s a twist: the gods upstairs are having an argument on which one of them should be ruler, and are using mortal humans to place a bet on which one of them can win the election race. Athena (Richard Hilliar), goddess of wisdom and strategy, becomes an image consultant for Prax, styling her in a masculinised vision of who mainstream Australia will vote for.

During this political odyssey we meet lots of colourful characters including Zeus (Rachael Colquhoun Fairweather), Dio (Hannah Raven), Aunty (Ava Madon), Yiayia/businessman (Idam Sondhi), Hermes (Clay Crighton), Prax’s husband (Matt Abotomey), and a horny anthropomorphic goat named Gora (Lib Campbell).

The fabulous cast have appeared in many Queen Hades’ productions, and are in their slapstick element in this absurdist political orgy that features a great deal of lowbrow comedy co-mingled with some very clever word-play (such as ‘Fiberal Party’) and sight-gags (such as Gora the goat creaming herself with excitement). The intellectual construct keeps the play fresh, original and entertaining, even when the toilet humour gets a bit OTT.

The economised cardboard set design and props allows the more elaborate snazzy costuming to pop, while 25A at Belvoir Theatre provides the perfect intimate setting for this very LOL and playful production.

Not Now, Not Ever: A Parliament of Women is playing at Belvoir’s 25A downstairs theatre until 31 March 2024. For tickets and showtimes, go to

Images: Supplied

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