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Review | Kathy & Stella Solve A Murder | HOME MCR | 10/10/2023

In a world filled with so much negativity, the theatre can provide welcome escapism. On the surface a show centred around a murder podcast may not be perceived as a distraction from the perils of life, however this couldn’t be further from the truth in this hilarious new musical.

Kathy & Stella Solve A Murder! began its life two years ago at the world famous Edinburgh Fringe. Beginning as a shorter one act show it has been developed into a fully fledged two act musical, with a full production currently playing at HOME Manchester.

Kathy (Bonté Barbé) & Stella (Rebekah Hinds) bonded at an early age over their fixation on true crime. Now in their 20’s they host their very own true crime podcast, dreaming of the day that they achieve the same success as their favourite true crime author Felicia Taylor (Jodie Jacobs). However, when Felcia Taylor is murdered, they take on the case in this musical whodunit!

The cast of 7 multi-role to great effect. In a show which doesn’t take itself too seriously, they poke fun of this multi-rolling, with Jodie Jacobs having some funny moments making clear which character she is. This could of course been helped along with more developed costuming, but in all honesty these moments just added to the charm of the show.

The music is superb, with ‘Kathy and Stella’s Murder Podcast’ providing an ear worm that you will be singing all the way home. It is however Stella’s solo of ‘The Approval of Strangers’ which is the stand out song of the show. Hinds performs this impeccably with her rich and powerful vocals giving the audience goosebumps, whilst simultaneously making them laugh with her comedic delivery.

The book itself is hilarious, with the audience laughing from beginning to end. As Erica, Imelda Warren-Green in particular held the audience in the palm of her hand with her physical comedy alone as obsessive fan Erica. It was Rebekah Hinds who stole the show as Stella, bringing warmth and heart to a character who is hiding her own insecurities. She is perfectly balanced against Bronté Barbé’s more timid portrayal of Stella. Her excitement at seeing a real-life mortuary for the first time was hilarious and oddly touching. We root for misfits Kathy & Stella throughout, both as individuals and a collective.

Set changes are seamless with movable elements, backdrops and neon lights bringing the show to life. It is hard to believe that this has been developed from a small fringe show, as it works so perfectly here. It is refreshing to have a great new British musical that isn’t based on a book, film or story. Kathy & Stella Solve A Murder! is clearly eyeing up a west end transfer, and I hope it gets it so that more people can discover this fantastic show.

Kathy & Stella Solve A Murder! is on at HOME MCR until Saturday 21 October 2023. See below for booking information

Photo Credit: Chris Payne Photography

Note: My ticket was gifted. Irrespective of whether a show is gifted or bought, I always ensure that my reviews are fair and based on my honest opinion alone.


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