21 Down consists of a series of five scenes which take place on the 16th, 12th, 9th, 5th and Ground Floors of a 21-storey apartment block.

The scenes overlap in time, and the narratives that play themselves out on each level, whilst seemingly unconnected, are ingeniously interlocked in a manner that becomes apparent only as the play unfolds.

The central thread that connects all of these stories is the descent of Harry Lime who, at play’s opening, leaps to his imminent and inescapable death from the 21st floor past the windows of each of the residents on the levels mentioned above.

21 Down is a vertical farce – a play about the reality and the illusion of urban isolation – the notion that hundreds (if not thousands) of individuals can cohabit in a single apartment block without ever crossing paths or affecting one another’s lives.

It is a play about the line between caring and intrusion, between privacy and isolation, between love and estrangement.

All of this – played out in the blackest of humour – is lent a piquance and a sense of urgency that grows almost unbearable as Harry, in some four seconds of real time, descends to his death.

  • black comedy
  • 115
  • 4 total
  • 2 female identifying, 2 male identifying
  • 18+
  • adult
  • Australian Script Centre


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Male | Unspecified | under 3 minutes
Starts on page 29

EXTRACT: They say that when you’re about to die, your life flashes before your eyes. The lucky ones, that is. The ones who made it back to tell the rest of us. But then, they didn’t actually die, did they. So their testimony can hardly be taken as gospel. Maybe it’s just the expectation of death that forces you to review your life. And we all know how unreliable expectations can be. Isn’t that why we seek out death in the first place? Because they haven’t been met?.. My own expectation is that I’m about to meet my end.


Male | Unspecified | under 3 minutes
Starts on page 58

EXTRACT: I’m sorry, but that is a total misreading of Wittgenstein.. You can’t say that.. No.. That ignores entirely the work of Immanuel Kant.. Come on, man – you never heard of the Categorical Imperative? What rock you been living under?.. It’s a syllogism, okay? The first premise is that a person acts morally if his or her conduct would, without condition, be the "right" conduct for any person in similar circumstances. That’s the "First Maxim". The second premise is that conduct is "right" if it treats others as ends in themselves and not as a means to an end.

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