NOT A VERY GOOD TRUE STORY
TRUE and terrifying stories tantalise May Jasper.
So when she heard the case of the cancer cluster at ABC studio in Brisbane, which saw 18 women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1994 and 2016, her interest was piqued.
“This was a really intriguing story because over the years woman after woman grew sick; six of them sat around the same desk,” the Melbourne theatremaker said.
“It seemed like a slow-moving slasher film, with the women constantly worrying about who would be next.
“The extra level of creepy is that they have no idea why it happened. There was never found to be any radiation in the building and they moved out (in 2006) simply on the strength that that many women getting sick seemed statistically unlikely.”
The stranger-than-fiction mystery festered in Jasper’s mind over several years until eventually morphing into a one-woman black comedy, on show now at Fringe World Festival.
“I like real-life stuff – it’s more interesting than anything you can make up,” the actor-writerproducer said.
“When you look at real-life stories you often find you’re looking at very small stories. When I was young, I wanted to write the big dramatic things like the break-up of a marriage or death of a partner and that’s good, but if I really think of the things in my life that have really knocked me for six they are the smallest things, like breaking my ankle.
“The knock-on effect that that had on my life makes it one of my big moments and it’s such a tiny thing.”
Using a stripped-back stage and mostly sound to carry the suspense, Not a very good story gives audiences an alternative to Fringe’s over-the-top cabarets and circuses.
“I moved the setting of the show to a call centre because the idea of this story happening in the ABC studio has at least some sort of interest and sexiness,” Jasper said.
“But to have such a bland environment like a call centre, where suddenly something around you isn’t right, seemed to be so creepy to me.”
Actor-writer-producer May Jasper is Stephanie, the one and only role in Not a very good story.