Chichester gets its very own murder mystery...

The Exchange: Greg, actress Paula Tinker and Roger
The Exchange: Greg, actress Paula Tinker and Roger
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The victim is hated. Ten characters have a motive. But who actually did it? Chichester gets its very own murder mystery as part of this year’s Festival of Chichester.

Set against the background of the Great Strike of 1926, The Exchange will be staged bv Chichester Community Theatre at the Riverside Theatre, Chichester College from Tuesday, July 18-Saturday, July 22 at 7.30pm with a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm. Written by Greg Mosse, it will be directed by Roger Redfarn.

“It’s a whodunnit,” Roger says, “a really good thriller. The second act is the classic Agatha Christie, everyone gathered in a room. There are ten people who could have done it, and there is a policeman...

“It opens at the Cross with the victim who is a farmer and is a deeply-unpleasant man, frightening a young nurse because he knows something about her. In fact, he terrifies everybody in the area. He has controlling shares in the Exchange, the building in East Street (a former cinema, now Next) that they want to turn into a cinema and he won’t let them. He won’t let them put seats in. They show films, but he makes them sit on bales of straw and old boxes. He loathes everybody, and he even rapes one of the characters. He is a very nasty man.

“He gets shot at the end of act one, but in act two, the local bobby decides that he can solve the crime...”

As director Roger sees a big part of his job to make the audience suspect everybody in turn: “But what makes it interesting, what Greg has done, is that he has set it in 1926, the year of the great strike. There is a young couple that come to Chichester from Kent. He has been a strike leader in the Kent coalfields. He has supported the strikes and they have been booted out of Kent. He has a sister, and they are now vagrants. They are refugees in Chichester. They are like beggars. And there is also a doctor who is very much from a Chichester family. Her father was a doctor, and Greg has brought all these characters together.

“We try to get the period right with costumes and props, but we are doing it very simply again with projections. It is quite challenging because there are five sets. We have got the Cross and the Dolphin & Anchor in East Street and two farmyard kitchens between here and Apuldram and two fields in the same area.

“The aunty is the anchor around whom it all happens. She has brought up two young people that have lost their mother. They now run a farm, and they are very poor, but William, the monster, is a wealthy farmer. One of the two children, the boy, has a pet lamb, and it dies. They decide to cook it and have a party and invite all the neighbours and bring everybody together, and it is at that party that William gets shot...”

Tickets from the Chichester Box Office at The Novium.

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