Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Laura Kressly

Miss-fit besties Kathy and Stella run a true crime podcast that they hope to turn into a full time job. When their favourite author is brutally murdered after a local event, they think this is the perfect opportunity to raise their profile and get the fame they know they deserve. Though they have no murder-solving skills, they’re determined to get to the bottom of her death. The musical comedy by Jon Brittain and Matthew Floyd Jones, writers of A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad), is a hilarious caper that embraces the genre’s fans, life’s unexpected heroes and the quest to find yourself.

Bronté Barbé and Rebekah Hinds are Kathy and Stella. Barbé’s Kathy left university several years ago and hasn’t worked out what to do with her life since. Hinds’ Stella has plenty of great ideas to make money, but they never seem to work out. Both feel far more comfortable working on their podcast, but it won’t pay their rent. Everyone else in their lives is pushing them to sort their lives out – get a job, move out, go to university, anything. It turns out that solving a murder would give their podcast a boost, but it would also give them a sense of direction. Though the ending is a great payoff, their personal journeys of discovery are heartwarming. The pair are particularly detailed characters for a short musical comedy and whilst there are some tropes at work, they are used with a light touch.

They are supported marvelously by a multi-rolling ensemble of three: Jodie Jacobs, TJ Lloyd and Imelda Warren-Green. Through them we meet far more caricatured people, like Kathy’s Catholic mum, the hard-nosed detective heading up the case, and the podcast fan who works in the local morgue. They significantly contribute to the bonkers, madcap sense of adventure and high stakes that come with trying to find a killer on the loose. They’re also a source of tension that emphasise the importance of Kathy and Stella’s friendship.

Though comedy is at the foreground of the story, the underlying themes have plenty of gravitas. There’s no shortage of conflict and the songs effectively juxtapose the silly and serious, which makes the one-act comedic piece far more sophisticated that it seems on the surface. It’s also fantastically good fun.

Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder runs through 28 August.

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