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Classic Christie will keep theatre-goers guessing

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: January 31, 2013

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From the pen of Agatha Christie, A Murder Is Announced sees the villagers of Chipping Cleghorn overcome with curiosity when a message in the local gazette announces: "A murder is announced and will take place on Friday, October 29 at Little Paddocks at 6.30pm."

Unable to resist the mysterious invitation, a crowd gathers at the appointed time when, without warning, the lights go out...

Starring Dean Gaffney, Gemma Bissix and Katy Manning, audiences at Lincoln Theatre Royal will be treated to a classic Christie puzzle of mixed motives, concealed identities, a determined inspector and one of the author's most famous characters.

The production, which runs from February 4-9, has already been on tour three weeks and Gemma Bissix, who is playing Julia Simmons, says audiences are loving the red herrings: "People can never guess who is guilty. This is a classic Agatha Christie experience. The set and costumes are all period, it's like being in a time warp.

"My character Julia is quite uptight. Patrick Simmons played by Dean Gaffney is her brother, they are always squabbling, but they find out there is a good reason why they have ended up coming to visit their aunt.

"In fact all the players come to realise there are good reasons why people are in this village at this particular time. Everybody becomes the suspect at some point.

"We have a really talented cast with this production. I love being in the theatre because you get that instant reaction, and it's such a good feeling," says Gemma who is best known for her role as Clare Bates in EastEnders and Clare Devine in Hollyoaks.

The play also paints a faithful picture of a post Second World War English village.

Dean Gaffney says: "We have been very true to the period it is set in.

"The main thing with this is the fact it's an Agatha Christie novel and we have kept to the story. Audiences know what they are getting with this, and they are led down one path where they think 'that's the murderer' but the next minute something else happens and it points the finger at another character. My character Patrick is suggested at some point too."

The story also features one of Agatha Christie's most enduring female leads, Miss Marple played by Geraldine Newman.

"She is brilliant at it," says Dean, who audiences will remember as Robbie Jackson in EastEnders. "When she first comes on stage, for about ten seconds the audience don't realise who she is but then you hear the gasp when they find out."

Monday, February 4 to Saturday, February 9 various times including matinees. Tickets: £15, £16, concessions £2 off, under 21s £7, matinees £10. Box office: 01522 519999, www.lincolntheatreroyal.com

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