BFFs Kathy and Stella are true-crime fans hosting a podcast on the subject in Hull. With it, they dream of making the big time (and avoiding their other problems) but their best chance is blown when their favourite investigator-author is murdered. Building on the skills they’ve no doubt absorbed through osmosis, they resolve to crack the case themselves.
Making good use of the venue’s theatre-in-the round mise en scene, Bronté Barbé, Rebekah Hinds, Jodie Jacobs, TJ Lloyd and Imelda Warren-Green (in particular) are energetic, funny and likeable, navigating effortlessly between the humour, drama, and, of course, singing, ably accompanied by live keyboards, with the lighting underlining well the mood, punctuating the joke and energising the scene transitions.
However, the show is slightly undermined by the book by Jon Brittain, with several of the emotional and intellectual plot-points being quite predictable. This forces characters into decisions more out of trope necessity than story or character evolution, and the whodunnit element’s underdevelopment make the mystery solvable purely through the lack of suspects or clues (false or otherwise) to truly intrigue.
It’s a shame as the rest of the show, including the music by Matthew Floyd-Jones and Brittain, is quite good. Scenes such as the I Want / (presumed) love sequence being set in a morgue suggest a far more subversive (and slightly shorter) version of this show which could have been something very special. Instead, we get a safer, though not without merit, production, which is only pretty good.
Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder plays until August 28th (not Tuesdays) at the Summerhall Roundabout, and tickets can be found at https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/kathy-and-stella-solve-a-murder
Reviewer: Oliver Giggins
Reviewed: 7th August 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★