Lifting the lid on a home-grown killing

EVERYONE, it seems, has a theory about the Pyjama Girl — who she was, where she came from, how she died.

Travis Dowling has heard a lot of them, but even he can be surprised by something new.

The associate director at Hothouse Theatre was in central Albury just last week when a man approached to tell him: “I know who murdered her — it was American soldiers!”

“I’d never heard that one before,” Dowling admits.

“There are so many rumours about her and who did it ... I think because it was Australia’s first big murder mystery, the media hype and sensationalism that went with that was widespread.”

Those rumours and media attention are the inspiration for The Pyjama Girl, Hothouse’s latest show which opens tonight at the Butter Factory Theatre.

The story, for most on the Border, is well-known — the body of a young woman dressed in yellow silk pyjamas was found in a culvert on Howlong Road just outside of Albury, in 1934.

The mystery was apparently solved 10 years later, when Melbourne man Tony Agostini admitted to murdering his wife Linda — but to this day speculation remains over whether she really was the Pyjama Girl.

As Dowling explains, that doubt still intrigues people today, not to mention the way media covers such crimes.

“When you get home at night, there’s all these programs like CSI, sometimes three in a row,” he said.

“When you sit back and look at it, murder is one of the worst things that can happen ... but people are so interested by it.”

Written by local playwright Emma Gibson and performed by an ensemble cast of young actors from Albury-Wodonga, The Pyjama Girl has been a work in progress for the past year.

“It’s been really challenging ... new works are really hard to get up,” Dowling said.

“But it’s been great having everyone’s input, seeing them grow as performers and make something out of nothing.

“It’s great to be part of that and be part of a community that has a shared story.”

The Pyjama Girl opens tonight at the Butter Factory Theatre.

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