Australia 1789. A young lieutenant is directing rehearsals of the first play ever to be staged in that country - with only two copies of the text, a cast of convicts, and one leading lady who may be about to be hanged! Between 1787 and 1868 Britain exiled 160,000 convicts to Australia, mostly never to return. The characters of the play are representative of the "First Fleet" which arrived at Botany Bay after 8 months at sea in January 1788. The fleet of eleven vessels carried 1,030 people including 548 male and 188 female convicts, under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip in his flagship Sirius. The average age of the convicts was 27; mostly guilty of petty theft. Transportation was the answer to an extreme problem - the English prisons were full; the loss of the American colonies meant prisoners could no longer be sent there to work on plantations; the fear of typhus was real. Transportation allowed England to dump its "criminal class" on the other side of the world, there to be forgotten!