A play focused on one of Tasmania’s most divisive criminal cases is set to open just one week before a long-awaited “last chance” appeal begins in court.
The Tasmanian Theatre Company’s production An Inconvenient Woman makes its debut on October 24, with a sold-out opening show.
The production centres on the case of Sue Neill-Fraser, who is serving a 23-year sentence after being convicted of the murder of her de facto partner Bob Chappell, 65, who went missing from the couple’s yacht Four Winds on Australia Day in 2009.
Mr Chappell’s body was never found.
The case sharply divided Hobart public opinion over Neill-Fraser’s guilt or otherwise.
“An Inconvenient Woman does not make any judgment about Susan Neill-Fraser’s guilt or innocence, but asks probing questions about a judicial system under the spotlight,” the play’s promotional material reads.
“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 play, written by Brian Peddie, has been bankrolled by Canberra lawyer Mark Blumer.
“The legal process is a fragile thing, we think of it as a pillar of society but it’s not made of stone — it’s made of people,” Mr Blumer said.
“It has so much power to affect people’s lives.”
Anne Cordiner said playing Neill-Fraser is a big responsibility and she has had a mixed reaction from friends and family about the production.
“I suppose like any cross-section of the community, some friends say ‘how could you do it?’, others say ‘wow’,” she said.
While Ms Cordiner now calls Hobart home she is not from Tasmania originally, and said she was surprised by the amount of community engagement with Neill-Fraser’s case.
“People really have very strong views,” she said.
Play director Aiden Fennessy said it was broadly about the psychological ramifications of the judicial system.
“It is just a timely reminder that there are people at the centre of these narratives, that don’t affect everyone’s lives but kind of form the day-to-day scuttlebutt of gossip news and tabloid stories,” he said.
“They’re very easy stories to sell.”
Neill-Fraser’s appeal begins on October 30.
More on the Sue Neill-Fraser case
Topics: murder-and-manslaughter, crime, law-crime-and-justice, arts-and-entertainment, sandy-bay-7005