NOT A VERY GOOD TRUE STORY

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Weekly Life - Sara Fitz­patrick

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.

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