Kathy & Stella Solve a Murder

“It would be a true crime to miss it!”

In a time where true crime has become entertainment for so many in the form of podcasts and documentaries, can a musical take this cult phenomenon to the next level?

Kathy and Stella are BFFs who host Hull’s least successful true crime podcast. When their favourite author is killed, they are thrust into a thrilling whodunnit of their own! 

Bronté Barbé is one of our leading ladies, Kathy- an eccentric bookworm who appears to be a people pleaser whilst never having her own voice. Barbé was relatable, multi-layered and, as an audience, we were rooting for her throughout.

Our second lead, Stella, was played by Rebekah Hinds. Hinds took this character and wiped the floor with her. Her comedy throughout made the audience feel at ease and in on the jokes – even when she was hit in the face by a prop mid scene- which, frankly, just added to the chaos and hilarity!

Both leads drew us into their performance, and it never felt like a battle of the voices. They blended excellently in what was a real team effort. This also goes for the ensemble who effortlessly switched between roles and although the costuming detracted from some of their transitions (more on this later), it was clear after a few seconds who they now were. Imelda Warren-Green stood out tonight with a hilariously expressive performance as obsessed-fan Erica. Her breathy comedic delivery had the audience in bits throughout. 

At first glance, the set designed by Cecilia Carey is quite like most modern musicals- sparse and well lit. However, as the show progresses, the set adapts to portray a variety of settings and utilises every inch of the stage at Home MCR. Costuming, also by Carey, was distinctive for each of our protagonists, extending the efforts made by a fantastic book to give our leads depth and dimension. At times, the basic jumpsuits for the ensemble members became confusing, especially for actors playing multiple roles. Although small motifs were added by way of a lanyard or a hairband, a bigger change would allow a smoother transition. A lab coat wouldn’t have gone a miss for those at the back of the theatre, I’m sure. Lighting Design by Peter Small was highly effective throughout and provided ‘wow’ moments aplenty. (You certainly won’t need to keep an eye out for the hashtag moment…)

All in all, this show has had a major upgrade since its emergence at Edinburgh’s fringe and it seemed clear that it is being prepped and readied for a West End stage in the not-so-distant future.  It’s not quite perfect yet- costuming could have been richer and the choreography could have been tighter in parts, but with a killer book and score and an extremely talented cast, it is well on the way to become a show which would be a true crime to miss.

This show was reviewed on the 10th October 2023.  Kathy & Stella Solve a Murder runs at Home MCR until the 21st October 2023.  Tickets available here: Kathy And Stella Solve A Murder - Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder

Review written by Lee Gregory

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Photo credit: Chris Payne

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