'It is a simple story about a drover's wife, left alone with her four children for months on end while her husband is droving.
'Her only protection is her stout spirit and her cattle dog, Alligator.
'The story opens when, late one day, she sees a venomous snake disappear under the hut's bedroom floor. She goes into the kitchen, where there is a dirt floor–the bedroom has a slab floor with cracks a snake could slide through.
'The wife beds the children down on the table, builds up the fire in the stove, and with Alligator, a snake-killing cattle dog, keeps vigil through the night, waiting for the snake.
'As she sits by the fire she thinks, in filmed flashbacks, of what her life has been since she married.
'Eventually, in the early morning, the snake appears, she kills it, and life goes on again without drama.'
'Killing a Snake with Conviction', Australian Women's Weekly, 18 September 1968
'If anyone can write a full-throttle drama of our colonial past, it’s the indomitable Leah Purcell.
'We all know Henry Lawson’s story of the Drover’s Wife. Her stoic silhouette against an unforgiving landscape, her staring down of the serpent; it’s the frontier myth captured in a few pages. In Leah’s new play the old story gets a very fresh rewrite. Once again the Drover’s Wife is confronted by a threat in her yard, but now it’s a man. He’s bleeding, he’s got secrets, and he’s black. She knows there’s a fugitive wanted for killing whites, and the district is thick with troopers, but something’s holding the Drover’s Wife back from turning this fella in…
'A taut thriller of our pioneering past, with a black sting to the tail, The Drover’s Wife reaches from our nation’s infancy into our complicated present. And best of all, Leah’s playing the Wife herself.' (Publication summary)