going down resized.jpg

Photo: Naomi Rukavina, Paul Blenheim and Catherine Davies in Sydney Theatre Company and Malthouse Theatre Company’s Production of Going Down © Brett Boardman


2019: finalist, Australian Writers’ Guild Best Original Drama

2019: finalist, New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award, Nick Enright Prize

2019: five nominations, 2018 Green Room Awards, Best Writing, Best Performer, Best Ensemble, Best Set/Costume/AV, Best Direction

2019: finalist, Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, Drama

2018: presented by Malthouse Theatre, 10 May to 3 June

2018: presented by Sydney Theatre Company, 23 March to 5 May

2015 & 2016: commissioned and developed by Malthouse Theatre

2015: awarded the Malcolm Robertson Prize

Creative team

Presentation – Malthouse Theatre and Sydney Theatre Company

Writer Michele Lee

Director Leticia Caceres

Dramaturg Mark Pritchard

Additional dramaturgy Polly Rowe

Set and costume designers The Sisters Hayes

Lighting designer Sian James-Holland

Sound designer and composer THE SWEATS

With performers Catherine Davies, Paul Blenheim, Naomi Rukavina, Jenny Wu and Josh Price

Stage manager Lyndie Li Wan Po

Developments – Malthouse Theatre

2016: writer Michele Lee, director Letitica Caceres, dramaturg Mark Pritchard, with performers Aileen Huynh, Josh Price, Naomi Rukavina and Fanny Hanusin

2015: writer Michele Lee, dramaturg Mark Pritchard, with performers Ming Zhu Hii, Naomi Rukavina, Luke Ryan and Kim Ko



Full-length play, stage


Natalie Yang is going up. Her debut novel, Banana Girl, detailing the endless smorgasbord of her sex life has finally hit the shelves. Her posse laud her as the voice of her generation.

Enter Lu Lu Jayadi: Indonesian refugee and award-winning peddler of clichéd migrant stories. Lu Lu’s success is about to send Natalie’s career and her sense of self spiralling out of control. And when that bubble bursts, the come-down is very real.


On the surface, Michele Lee’s Going Down is a brilliant excoriation of Australian literary culture, and it can be enjoyed just for its wickedly funny satire. Lee’s observations of hipster Melbourne are written with a scalpel accuracy that allows her to push through the stereotypes she’s satirising to create genuine complexity, both in the ideas she pursues and the characters she creates. However, this portrait of a young Asian-Australian novelist disastrously negotiating the pitfalls and paradoxes of being an ‘ethnic’ writer in Australian literary culture has a resonant subtext that rises through the laughs. Going Down is a moving and intelligent work about self-discovery that follows its protagonist through a major crisis towards a new sense of her identity. It’s a formally adventurous play, unafraid of fluid shifts in form, and the supple certainty of its characterisations – from swift thumbnail portraits to the more rounded portraits of its major characters – is very impressive. What shines through this play is the skill with which Lee balances her varying elements to create an inexorable emotional journey for the reader and audience member. It shows the deepening of a talent that will continue to wow us into the future. Judges’ report, Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2019

Going Down is a comedy following millennial writer Natalie Yang, author of the moderately successful memoir ‘Banana Girl’ as she tries to carve out her space as an Asian-Australian writer who doesn’t tell her migrant story. A sugar high and a befriended nemesis leads her on a journey of self-discovery and brings her closer to understanding her family history in the process. Writer Michele Lee impressively captures the spirit of millennial consciousness and contemporary identity politics in this work. The writing stands out for its sharp satire and smart comedy. Its formal creativity only heightens the humour and the playfulness with which the writer interrogates their subject matter. Going Down is a very funny play speaking to the identity politics of today in the wake of our obsession with ourselves. Judges’ report, New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards, Nick Enright Prize 2019

Michele Lee’s Going Down twists irreverent sex comedy and sardonic literary satire into a warts-and-all take-down of what her protagonist calls “migrant porn”… It’s rare to see such a nimble, fresh comic vision from a new Australian playwright, and this production does it justice. The Age

Going Down is a vibrant, layered comic exploration of stereotypes, from piccolo-quaffing urban Melbournites to migrant memoirists from ethnic minorities… Lee shows herself to have a keen eye, a wicked sense of humour, and a willingness to take the piss out of herself. It’s a voice that is distinctly Australian, while working simultaneously to complicate just what it means to be a contemporary Australian. The Conversation

Despite Natalie’s defiance in her pursuit of a contemporary urban identity, playwright Michele Lee’s script is a classic migration-and-return drama, like some of the great early immigrant Australian plays of the 1980s… [the play] has a lot of comedy of recognition (especially for Melbourne audiences) and a directness and tenderness that is, by the end, affecting. The Australian

This is a fascinating concept explored in a world premiere production (strangely for a play with so many Melbourne references such as Edinburgh Gardens, Werribee and Russell Street, it’s premiering in Sydney before heading south to the Malthouse). The show has a very young cast, lots of jokes and a great, light feel. Director Leticia Cáceres keeps it fast and entertaining, with a clever touch of showing social media messages on screens above the action… Michele Lee is an obvious talent. Stage Whispers

Which stories matter? Do some matter more than others? Lee’s play grapples with these questions, drawing on her own life experience (Lee has indeed written a book called Banana Girl) to create a rich comedy-drama that isn’t afraid to be silly. It also isn’t afraid to be complicated… This is a sharp script by a compelling new Australian voice, and is given the merry, thoughtful production of its dreams by Cáceres and cast. Time Out

Lee’s is a fresh, funny voice and this is an undeniably ambitious piece of theatre. Although not without its flaws, it takes a keen look at a complex web of issues: the palatability of certain migrant stories, the corrosive self-righteousness involved in deciding who’s performing their ethnicity authentically, and the general vagaries of navigating the world as an Asian-Australian… Michele Lee is one to look out for. Limelight


Available from Australian Plays.


Development: Malcolm Robertson Prize, Malthouse Theatre, The Playwrights’ Center

Presentation: Malthouse Theatre, Sydney Theatre Company

Publisher: Australian Plays