Theatre Review: Going Down written by Michele Lee

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Michele Lee is to be congratulated for writing a brilliant play, Going Down which cleverly deals with topical issues in a comical way. The main one being whether writers from migrant backgrounds should be forced into writing migrant stories that don’t belong to them. That is something which Natalie Yang, (played by Catherine Davies) a Hmong-Australian writer, is faced with.

Natalie goes on a book tour all the way to rural Victoria to promote her memoir, Banana Girl which receives a lukewarm reception by her audience of three, who is horrified by the amount of sex involved. They point out how much they admire Lu Lu Jayadi (played by Jenny Wu), whose memoir about her experiences as a refugee has made her a literary icon and why doesn’t she do the same? Natalie rejects the migrant narrative and decides, while on a wild night out with her friends Tilda (Naomi Rukavina) and Matt (Paul Blenheim), to write about her sex life and makes the brash decision to write 100 cocks in 100 nights. 

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Catherine Davies is outstanding, playing super energised Natalie, which is like watching her run a marathon throughout the play, due to her highly physical performance. It’s not until the end when Natalie reunites with her mother that we see a softer, gentler, empathetic side to her character. Jenny Wu is also to be commended for her versatility in playing multiple roles that are distinctive – I loved watching her play Lu Lu Jayadi (Natalie’s arch-nemesis) to a poor homeless woman to Natalie’s mother. Naomi Rukavina gives a powerful performance as Natalie’s friend. A wonderful touching moment is when she mops up Natalie’s face after she’s just barfed up a donut – here the tone of the play changes to a more peaceful one. Josh Price is hilarious and adds additional comedic undertones to the play. Paul Blenheim gives a convincing performance as Tilda’s on again, off again boyfriend.

Going Down

I loved the clever set design by The Sister Hayes, with the pull out bed under the stairs of the stage and the projection of tweets and texts. Congratulations to Leticia Caceres for directing such a entertaining play – the performances of the actors and the staging were outstanding.

8 / 10

Photos courtesy of Sydney Theatre Co

Sydney Theatre Company’s Going Down is at Wharf 2 Theatre until May 5 

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Chimerica review – Sydney Theatre Company’s best production

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Last night I was honoured to attend a special preview performance of Sydney Theatre Company’s Chimerica. I have to say that this is Sydney Theatre Company’s best production yet. I was blown away by not only the script but also by the performance of the whole cast, stage direction and especially the set transitions that looked more like a well choreographed dance. There were also a few wonderful elements of theatre magic incorporated into the show.

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Chimerica is a play by the British dramatist Lucy Kirkwood directed by Kip Williams. It draws its title from the term Chimerica, referring to the predominance of China and America in modern geopolitics. It tracks two decades of complex US-China relations alongside the personal stories that exist beyond the margins of history. It’s a gripping drama, has a touch of romance, and has great comedy – all in one. One of my favourite lines is, “be careful of your tooth” …”you can’t handle the truth!” The whole audience erupted into laughter at this scene and Gabrielle Chan’s money exchange scene and many more.

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Award-winning Artistic Director Kip Williams (All My Sons) directs a visually enthralling Australian premiere of this captivating epic which takes the audience on an emotional journey that leaves you in awe by his directorial vision and strong performance of the cast. After winning Helpmann Awards in 2016 for both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, Mark Leonard Winter (King Lear) features as the photojournalist at the centre of the action, together with Jason Chong (Netflix’s Marco Polo), and a magnificent ensemble cast who are joined by 20 young artists from the National Institute of Dramatic Art.

Mesmerising performances by the cast – Matthew Backer, Gabrielle Chan, Jason Chong, Tony Cogin, Geraldine Hakewill, Brent Hill, Rebecca Massey, Monica Sayers, Mark Leonard Winter, Anthony Brandon Wong, Charles Wu & Jenny Wu.

This is theatre at its best. It’s visually stimulating and leaves the audience in awe by the cast’s performance and a well written script. Congratulations to Kip Williams and the cast & ensemble cast. This is a 10/10 production.