Going Down, penned by Michele Lee, is the kind of side-splitting comedy that commands its audience to put aside all airs and graces and, in the process, take a long hard look at their entitlement and privilege, particularly if you’re a Gorman-wearing, soy latte sipping inner-Melbourne-living individual, because if you are, you are most certainly the fodder from which this performance is formed.
It is a work that speaks to the Melbourne populous, but also, more broadly, to the way in which the Australian society is caught up in political correctness and the way in which we unfortunately still place “the other” in neat confines that make them easily palatable for us; no truer case of this is more present in Going Down than the throwing about of such concepts as “migrant porn” and the strive for intellectualism and affluence by our middle class.
To great strength it plays on local iconography such as Wheeler Centre audiences and the North-South divide, both explored in scenes which are way to close to home. Here, in this narrative, our main character crosses the Yarra and is met by some twilight-zone characters, all plucked glitz and glamour, selling their homemade and surely organic lemonade for 12 dollars a pop – anyone who lives on the Northside of this town has had such experiences.
The ensemble consists of an impressive bunch, lively and virile, each performer exudes a warmth which seduces and draws us inward, some switching between characters withoutth a flawless kind of interchange which adds to the hilarity of the overall experience. The performance, as a whole, is well rehearsed and polished without loosing any of its gritty Inner Northern edge. The physical comedy and direction is tightly wound and adds multiple layers to an already flawless script. In this work, production values and elements do exactly what they should intend; that is to provide a flawless backdrop for the narrative and live elements to play out against. The set is lively and beautifully crafted, use of projected image is just right. The sound design that pivots between genre is really nothing more than the cherry on top.
Of any critism to put forward, for a performance that deals with such important messages its reliance on local iconography is perhaps limiting, for much of this work’s relevance and shine would be lost on audiences outside of Melbourne. Despite this, it is a work that without forcing its messages down our throats, stands as a bold and very solid piece of political and social commentary and one which leaves questions lingering post performance.
Going Down is a testament to the way in which tough and uncomfortable concepts, conversations and truths can be made all the more approachable when wrapped in the soft guise of humor and reverence. In this work lurks a conversation that we all desperately need to have.