Death in a Statesman


Cliff’s life is in the toilet: he’s lost his wife, his job, and he’s back living in Bundaberg. Struggling to reconcile with his daughter (and his mother), Cliff navigates family dramas, local politics, and a potential murder case … all without a car.

Elliott’s doing alright: she’s finishing Year 12, looking after her grandmother, and running the family newsagent … until her estranged father turns up out of the blue, the mayor turns up dead, and the papers don’t turn up at all.

Of all the rum joints in all the world, it had to happen in Bundy.

Combining a suspicious death, strained family relationships, generational change, and a reckoning of what being Australian actually means – Death in a Statesman is funny, smart, and wears the hell out of a fedora.

Murder in Queensland. Yeah, noir.

Judith Wright Centre
8-12 November, 2022

debase is a not for profit company. We couldn't make this show and others like it without your support.


Writer's notes

Robert Kronk

Thank you to everyone who helped bring Death in a Statesman to life. There is a huge team of artists and supporters who helped the work reach this point. I am indebted to my collaborator and friend, Bridget Boyle, who helped drive and realise this work. It could also – as always – never have been done without Rachel Rolfe (and Wilfred Kronk).

I am interested in stories from regional and rural Queensland and notions of identity and belonging. Death in a Statesman is about a lot of things – it started off as a desire to write a play that explored themes around cars and car culture, connection and disconnection, identity and belonging. Somewhere along the way it took on a life of its own and it seemed like a mystery might be a good vehicle (pun intended) to explore some of these ideas, and then a pandemic intervened…

Death in a Statesman is a heightened version of the Bundaberg I grew up in (though not all that heightened). It’s a love letter to a time and place, to cane fields, flat roads, and hot days – and to the things that bind us together (or fail to).

Robert Kronk

Director's notes

Bridget Boyle

This has been a long time coming. Rob has dreamed for years of staging a murder mystery that leaned into the traditions of Murray Whelan – a whodunnit in the unique Australian vernacular.

Then there’s the thing about cars, what they do, how they symbolise disconnection, how we Australians can’t seem to live without them. These threads have woven together to form the spine of Death in a Statesman. Then there’s the typical Kronkian tropes of families, small towns and playful metatheatricality – it’s a heady brew!

And it’s been a fruitful journey with some extraordinary collaborators – not least the wonderful Ella Lincoln, who created the graphic novelesque, neo-noir playspace for this crazy tale to live in. Huge thanks also to Xanthe Beesley, without whom this play would never have happened.

Thanks to all the actors and creatives, the wonderful staff at the Judith Wright Centre, to Arts Queensland and Brisbane City Council, and to all of debase’s long term supporters. We love you all.

Buckle up people, it’s a bumpy ride through cane fields and mangroves, from hot Bundy streets to cold St Kilda beach, traversing time and place and all the dark rooms of the human heart. Thanks for coming with us on this wild ride and supporting independent theatre in Brisbane.

Bridget Boyle


Helen Cassidy

Helen Cassidy is a theatre maker and performer with nearly 25 years experience nationally and internationally across a range of genres. Helen frequently collaborates with independent and commercial companies. Under her company Pretend Productions she created critically acclaimed productions including: Erotic Intelligence for Dummies, Statuesque, Glitter and Dust and most recently the short film Goldfish. Notable stage appearances include Boston Marriage, Orphans, Man Equals Man, The Glass Menagerie and Absurd Person Singular for Queensland Theatre.

In 2018 she moved to Las Vegas to be part of the creative ensemble for Spiegelworld’s new comedy Opium at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Helen played London and the UK with Unlimited Theatre in The Moon The Moon and featured on the variety stages of London, New York and Sydney. Her film and television appearances include Thirteen Lives, Sisters of War, Wanted, Australia Day, The Contents and Through My Eyes. Helen is a proud recipient of the Lord Mayors Performing Arts Fellowship and three Matilda Awards for acting.

Peter Cossar

Peter Cossar has been a proud member of MEAA (Actors Equity) since 1991 and has sat on State Branch Council, the National Performers Committee and the Actors and Entertainers Benevolent Fund. This activism has led to him running twice (2019, 2022) for the Federal seat of Ryan as the Labor candidate.

As an actor Peter has performed in every capital city in Australia, toured extensively through Queensland, Victoria, and South Australia, working with companies such as debase, Belloo Creative, Queensland Theatre Company, La Boite, Opera Queensland, Zen Zen Zo, Out of the Box, Theatre UpNorth, the Philharmonic Orchestra, Street Arts and Access Arts.

Like most people who make a living in the arts, Peter doesn’t just do one thing … he has built sets, rigged lights, set up sound equipment, production managed, stage managed, taught at QUT and has done thousands of corporate gigs. One week he’s in the Opera House, the next week he’s doing a sod turning ceremony, dressed in a bunny suit!

Peter is excited to be doing his second production with the fabulous debase.

Allen Laverty

Allen Laverty is an experienced actor, theatre-maker and teacher. He has toured nationally and internationally and performed with wide range of companies including debase, La Mama Theatre, Born in a Taxi and Opera Australia.

Allen regularly facilitates workshops in acting, physical theatre, improvisation and has taught for companies including Union House Theatre, University of Melbourne, Westside Circus, and Aboriginal Centre for Performing Arts.

He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Acting) from the University of Southern Queensland (2001) where he was awarded the Creative Arts Award for Theatre and later continued his training with Dell’arte International School of Physical Theatre. Allen's solo practice combines storytelling and theatre design; his one person work The Caretaker premiered in 2017 at La Mama Theatre with a sell-out season. Allen was a company member with Melbourne Playback Theatre 2011 – 2017 and currently works at Union House Theatre. He has been a proud member of MEAA since 2001.

Allen is a long-term collaborator with debase.

Emily Liu

Emily Liu is thrilled to be making her professional theatre debut with debase.

Emily graduated from QUT with Distinction in a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) in 2021. Highlights from QUT include Gloria, Twelfth Night, Algorithm and The Laramie Project. Proudly Chinese-English, she is passionate about increasing awareness of diversity in the arts and is excited to tell new stories.

Kate Wilson

Kate Wilson is an actor, theatre maker, voice over artist and coach, and a Foundation Trustee at Empire Theatre, Toowoomba.

She has 50 years of experience as an actor, director, and writer for companies like Queensland Theatre where she appeared in over 30 productions. She was also a member then Chair of the Board for 11 years. Kate has also acted in independent theatre productions, most recently in Brutal Utopias for Playlab Theatre and in a guest role in the Joe vs. Carole television series in 2022. Kate loves voice acting and bringing words to life as an audiobook narrator.

Kate has extensive experience as a director and voice over coach, with 21 years’ experience at the University of Southern Queensland where she was Head of Theatre and Director of the Performance Centre. She is currently a sessional staff member in the Department of Performing Arts at QCGU.

Kate was nominated for a Matilda Award in 2020 for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for The Revisionist, and Matilda Awards Nomination: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in 2011 for Water Wars.

Anna Yen

Anna Yen is an actor, theatre-maker, playwright and performance teacher.

Acting credits include: Concerto for Harmony and Presto, debase productions, Shanghai International Arts Festival; Rock'n'Roll Circus ensemble four years; and The Portable Door (Jim Henson Company / Story Bridge Films feature film). Anna’s award-winning play Chinese Take Away was adapted by Looking Glass Pictures into an SBS commissioned film. Anna toured Chinese Take Away’s film adaptation with performance excerpts, to Asia, Europe, USA and Australia.

Her latest play, Slow Boat, produced by Playlab Theatre, premiered Brisbane Festival 2022, with Anna as Movement Director. She was a writer / performer in the acclaimed The Serpent’s Table Griffin Theatre / CAAP, Sydney Festival. Awards include: Creative Partnerships Art and Health Award Qld (Playful Engagement Project), Matilda Awards for Chinese Take Away; Bank SA Adelaide Fringe Best Circus-Physical Theatre Weekly Award – Monsteria; and a Churchill Fellowship. Yen teaches widely, including Awareness Through Movement (Feldenkrais Method) at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and for Vulcana Circus. Her PlayMoves - Movement Workshops for Performance are presented throughout Australia.

Death in a Statesman Premier Season

– Creatives & Crew –

Written by Robert Kronk

Directed by Bridget Boyle

Death in a Statesman has been developed with regular debase collaborator Allen Laverty

Designer: Ella Lincoln

Lighting design: Glenn Hughes

Sound design: Emma Burchell

Stage manager: Freddy Komp

Production & marketing: Nadia Jade

Set Design Assistant: Jenna Vryenhoek

Photography & videography: AJ Moller Photography

Graphic design: Lead Based Ink

Death in a Statesman play script - coming soon

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About debase

Working in Brisbane and Melbourne, touring nationally and internationally, debase has been creating new shows since 1998.

debase produces a wide range of work for a wide range of audiences; from children’s theatre, to comic drama, to cabaret. For debase, the relationship with our audience is paramount – this is reflected in the way we create and program work with and for specific audiences.

We are committed to telling Australian stories and challenging our audiences to question stereotypes, history and identity. Our body of work includes The Longest Minute (exploring the intersection of gender, race and sport), Chasing the Lollyman (Mark Sheppard’s exploration of urban Indigenous identity), The Clown from Snowy River (the entire history of Australia told by clowns), Spoilt (an examination of contemporary self-obsession) and Fly-In Fly-Out (a young person’s perspective on the mining boom).

In 2019, debase was awarded the Gold Matilda at the Queensland Theatre Awards for outstanding contribution to theatre in Queensland.

debase is a not for profit company.

This project is supported by Arts Queensland through the First Night Showcase – Judith Wright Arts Centre Program; and the Creative Sparks Fund, a partnership between the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council to support local arts and culture in Brisbane.
Judith Wright Arts Centre and Arts Queensland

Proudly supported by

Brisbane City CouncilBrisbane City Council