Writer Jon Brittain and composer Matthew Floyd Jones drew on the experience of depression for the uplifting touring hit, Super Happy Story (About Feeling Sad). They have come together again to create another show, Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder! which, despite its gruesome premise, proves to be a joyful celebration of friendship and not fitting in.
Co-dependent misfits Kathy and Stella are best friends from childhood who have set up Hull’s best (and presumably only) true-crime podcast. Now adults, their lives are drifting but their podcast, based on exhaustive research on Wikipedia, keeps them going. Suddenly, they become “part of the story” after their hero and leading true-crime podcaster Felicia Taylor is murdered while visiting Hull, propelling them into investigating her death as well as the connected cold case of the Hull Decapitator.
The music and lyrics by Matthew Floyd Jones – formerly part of parodic pop duo Frisky and Mannish – are sharp, smart and upbeat, benefiting from Tingying Dong’s impressive sound design that helps make every witty rhyme and joke hit home. The songs may not be traditional showstoppers but memorable highlights include “If I Didn’t Have You (I Would Die)”, “We Don’t Know What We’re Doing (F**k)” and the title song, “Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder”.
The five-strong cast – with West End credentials – are excellent, led by Bronté Barbé as the sweet but determined Kathy and Rebekah Hinds as the more forthright Stella. Jodie Jacobs, TJ Lloyd and Imelda Warren-Green play other roles, with Jacobs brilliantly adding to the show’s pleasures in a multiplicity of parts including Felicia Taylor. Directed by Brittain, the show is slick with a pace that never flags, making it as much a thrilling whodunnit as a delightful piece of musical theatre.
Running at Paines Plough’s Roundabout at Summerhall in Edinburgh to 28 August 2022 as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Tickets on sale at https://www.edfringe.com/