There’s a reason Agatha Christie adaptations and shows like Midsommer Murders have endured year after year; people love to solve a good old fashioned mystery. In the modern era this has translated to a boom in true-crime podcasts, where everyday ordinary people can talk about unsolved crimes and amass a loyal following. This is the basis for our protagonists in the fantastic new musical Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder! playing at Roundabout this Edinburgh Fringe.
With only a handful of subscribers, Kathy and Stella broadcast their very own true-crime podcast from Kathy’s mothers garage. The pair have invested a lot, and put life on hold, to make the podcast work, so when the ‘Queen of True Crime’ rolls into town, they know they need to impress Felicia Taylor.
But Felicia ends up dead, murdered. Despite warnings from the police to stay out of it, Kathy and Stella embark on a hilarious adventure to solve the crime and save their podcast.
Written by Jon Brittain and Matthew Floyd Jones, Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder! is a powerhouse of rich northern storytelling, the characters are so perfectly drawn you forget you’re actually watching fictional characters, these are people you could easily know.
In the title roles Bronté Barbé and Rebekah Hinds have an incredible chemistry, each of them illustrating their character brilliantly. Both have superb voices, but when they sing together the whole room is captivated.
The remainder of the cast all multi-role and have to work quite hard to keep up with the fast paced adventure. Jodie Jacobs in particular has a huge number of roles to cover, but Jacobs is one talented individual, easily morphing from one to the next. Someone should also check the roof of the Roundabout, because when Jodie Jacobs lets rip with a song, there’s a danger of that roof being blown right off.
Jon Brittain and Matthew Floyd Jones’ songs are perfectly written, soaring ballads and catchy earworms have the audience toe-tapping away in their seats. TJ Lloyd and Imelda Warren-Green, who complete the cast, get some nice numbers too, and in the gloriousness of it all it’s hard to believe all of the music is coming from a solo pianist.
This is a musical that is as funny as it is uplifting, and like shows from the same producers before it, could, and should, have a future life. But until then, Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder! is the must-see musical of this Edinburgh Fringe.