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Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder | Home Theatre

Kathy and Stella Solves a Murder tells the story of two best friends who struggle to confirm to society norms, but find solace in the comfort of each other and their struggling true crime podcast. Whilst their podcast is struggling to maintain listeners, and their inboxes are crammed with hate mail (a running joke throughout the show), it's their passion and commitment towards their podcast (and each other), that inspires them to do whatever it takes to succeed. In a desperate attempt, they seek the support of murder writer Felicia Taylor, but things begin to escalate and end up being involved in their own murder case. After being wrongly accused and questioned, they decide to take it upon themselves to solve the case for their doting true crime listeners and to clear their name.

Written by Jon Brittain, the story is completely ridiculous and chaotic, but also packs a lot of heart as our two titular characters are on different journeys of self-discovery. Interwoven themes of mental health and lack of self-confidence lead to incredibly raw character arcs that juxtapose the chaos in the storyline, making the production more grounded and emotional. Both the book and lyrics are jam packed with relevant humour around our current society, and through the interwoven themes, this production feels relatable and accessible to wider audiences.

Whilst the songs written by Matthew Floyd Jones are fun, with catchy melodies and mostly do the job of moving the story along, there are times in which they get slightly too repetitive and just feel like gap fillers rather than being there to serve a purpose. Lighting design (Peter Small) and stage design (Cecilia Carey) are effective in supporting the storytelling, moving us to different locations such as a mortuary, a book signing and back to Kathy’s garage where the podcast is recorded. Costume design (Cecilia Carey) perfectly encapsulates the character’s personalities, with Kathy being a eccentric bookworm, donned in clashing patterns with bright red converse, and Stella being a fierce and bold character, rocking a band T-shirt and Doc Martens. However, the costume for the ensemble seems a little lacklustre. The ensemble cast wear different coloured jumpsuits, however, they play a variety of roles and there is only the occasional accessory to distinguish each role. There could have been potential to play around more with costumes here to distinguish the characters and set them apart.

It must be said that the ensemble cast are incredibly effective in multi rolling the different characters that they play. They truly embody each character with changes to their physical characterisations and their accents that make their performances completely believable. The lead roles Kathy (Brontë Barbe) and Stella (Rebekah Hinds) are perfectly casted and truly bring the chaos and the high energy that this show needs.

Whilst the two titular characters have completely different personalities, it’s perfectly clear throughout how important their friendship is to each other. Hinds and Barbë portray this throughout with such an emotional connection that makes their friendship so believable. As mentioned before, both characters are on separate self-discovery journeys, and Barbë gives such an emotional and raw performance as she struggles with mental health and her desperate desire to focus on her future. Hinds, steals the show with her performance, showing the many different layers to her character as she bounces between carefree and nonchalant, to insecure and desperate for approval of strangers (one of the show's strongest songs.) Both Barbë and Hinds are incredible vocally, blending their voices together on the group numbers, and giving standout performances as solos.

With a successful run at Edinburgh Fringe, and then Bristol Vic, it is clear that there is so much potential for this show. With a little reworking to fine tune, Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder has the potential to be a killer show, for both true crime fanatics and theatre fans in general. Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder runs at Home Theatre until 21st October - for more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review


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