By Rachel Bronnert, Arts Editor
The Bristol Old Vic’s latest show is a comedy musical inspired by the true crime craze that has a hold on much of our culture today. Told through a combination of witty drama, flamboyant dance and belter worthy songs, the story follows Kathy (played by Bronte Barbe) and Stella (played by Rebekah Hinds), two northern women who host their own true crime podcast. At the beginning of the story their favorite author is brutally killed, and as a result the murder inspires them to bring a touch of ‘reality’ to their podcast and investigate the shocking new murder themselves.
The musical covers a lot of big ideas and themes of today’s culture. It satirizes and examines our obsession with true crime, asking the question, is our infatuation with brutal events problematic? While taking neither side, it provides a fascinating commentary on the benefits and drawbacks of the genre, looking at humanity’s weird fascination with death. Barbe’s bold number in the morgue particularly plays into this, as she provocatively dances alongside a dead body!
Alongside this, the musical does a deep dive into the world of social media and comedically portrays influencing trends. We see this in Stella’s growing obsession with the validation she receives on her online platform and (without giving any spoilers) the consequences that this obsession brings. The para-social relationships formed are truly comic and fascinating, playing into the ending which fits the wider arc of the narrative perfectly.
Ultimately though, the musical’s warm lovable characters and their experience navigating adulthood remained raw and relatable, even while the plot was taking off! It was this element of Kathy and Stella’s friendship, as they navigate change and trauma that highlighted the beauty and depth of female friendship.
Aside from this, I feel I must give a special mention to Jodie Jacobs, who not only played Felicia, an award-winning author but a multitude of other characters. Energetic and hilarious, Jacobs breathed life into each character, making them simultaneously distinctive and sending the audience into fits of laughter. Jacobs was a true emblem of the nature of the performance, utterly wacky and as a result loveable.
Featured Images: Ellie Kurttz
Have you been to see Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder?