A man disappears. A woman is convicted. The case divides a state. Tasmanian Theatre Company brings controversial prisoner Sue Neill-Fraser’s story to the stage with An Inconvenient Woman, currently playing at Hobart’s Pop Up Theatre until 4 November 2017.
On Australia Day 2009, Bob Chappell went missing from his yacht Four Winds. On August 20, his partner of 20 years, Susan Neill-Fraser was arrested for his murder. With no body, no forensic evidence connecting the accused and no clear motive presented, the case has divided the public and raised much conjecture in and outside the courtrooms of Tasmania and beyond.
The production is deliberately provocative however, it is not Neill-Fraser’s guilt or innocence that is the source of scandal, nor the focus of the play. This is a story that turns the spotlight, often uncomfortably, on Tasmania’s flawed justice system. Widely seen by legal experts in Tasmania and around Australia as a miscarriage of justice, Neill-Fraser’s case is arguably Tasmania’s most famous legal story.
When asked why the Tasmanian Theatre Company had chosen to take on such a divisive and highly political topic as this for their final work of the season, Artistic Director Charles Parkinson said: “One of the roles of theatre is to hold a mirror up to the society in which it operates and Brian Peddie’s new play An Inconvenient Woman does just that.”
“Susan Neill-Fraser is arguably Tasmania’s most controversial prisoner and her conviction for the murder of Bob Chappell has been the subject of a great deal of speculation from the public, the media and the legal profession. So, while the Tasmanian Theatre Company makes no comment on the guilt or otherwise of Ms Neill-Fraser, it does recognise that it is a truly unusual case. It is also controversial and controversy makes for good theatre.”
The play was commissioned by Executive Producer and ACT lawyer, Mark Blumer as a vehicle to speak directly to Tasmanian audiences about the case. An Inconvenient Woman is directed by award-winning writer, director and dramaturg Aidan Fennessy, and features Joe Clements, Anne Cordiner, Colin Dean, Craig Irons, and Jeff Michel.
“This story is ongoing and this story is real,” says Fennessy. “In the post truth world of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternate facts’ it’s a story about a gross miscarriage of justice that jailed a Hobart woman, Susan Neill-Fraser, for 23 years of her life.”
Director: Aidan Fennessy Featuring: Joe Clements, Anne Cordiner, Colin Dean, Craig Irons, Jeff Michel Assistant Director: Melissa King Designer: Roz Wren Lighting Designer: Nicholas Higgins Sound Designer: Heath Brown
An Inconvenient Woman
Pop Up Theatre No. 9, Evans Street, Hobart
Season continues to 4 November 2017
Information and Bookings: www.tastheatre.com
Image: courtesy of Tasmanian Theatre Company