BWW Review: SEVEN METHODS OF KILLING KYLIE JENNER, Royal Court Theatre
Kylie Jenner, member of the American royal family of the Kardashian-Jenners and princess of lip-kits, was named the youngest self-made billionaire ever by Forbes magazine. As she was born into clan, the publication was much criticised for overlooking the simple fact that her net worth is undeniably linked to growing up in one of the most popular and richest families in the USA.
Cleo (Danielle Vitalis) vents her frustrations regarding the article in a thread of tweets that detail very specifically how she would kill Kylie, a woman who has exploited Black culture from the very start of her career. While her friend Kara (Tia Bannon) tries to reason with her, past resentments resurface, and the internet proves to be a dangerous but effective machine.
Written by Jasmine Lee-Jones, seven methods of killing kylie jenner is a peculiar experiment that could have gone unbelievably wrong. It doesn't, and the debut play developed by the Royal Court's Young Court writers programme is fresh, young, real and exceptionally woke. Milli Bhatia directs a script imbued with digital conventions, turning memes, GIFs, and Twitter references into visual gags that enable the actresses to show off the actual potential of their generation.
It certainly is a piece whose landing might depend vastly on the savviness and inclinations of the audience, but - the main target's being a specific age-group - it's an absolute joy to see internet culture, slang, and a distinct perspective being portrayed flawlessly on stage. But the play goes beyond its sugarcoating of funny references: Vitalis's Cleo is a 21-year-old woman whose Generation Z rage finds an easy target.
She is unafraid to speak up and call out a deleterious industry that not only profits over imposed beauty ideals but capitalises on double standards. Kylie and all the Kardashian-Jenner entrepreneurs are well known for their constant appropriation of Black culture, selling the same style and personal features naturally owned by Black Women and the culprit of their alienation.
This is what Cleo revolts against. She delivers her social activism through her Twitter account, @INCOGNEGRO, which goes viral and becomes the target of hate as well as being praised for speaking out. Bhatia engages with the play with clever direction, brilliantly aided by Rajha Shakiry and Jessica Hung Han Yun at stage and lighting design.
They thankfully bypass the too-easy use of projections and go straight to the point with Vitalis and Bannon delivering the paraphernalia of GIFs and such non-verbally, absorbing their presence into their performances in a compelling morphological study.
Historically used online as ways to convey social cues and emotional intention, reaction GIFs, memes et al have become evident influences in everyday speech and have become companions to younger generations, as Lee-Jones's reflection of the world proves. She makes Cleo's anger and outrage universal, slamming the cultural unfairness and slanted abuse perpetrated by the Kardashian-Jenner team at the expense of the minority.
Topping the sharp and unyielding social critique, Cleo and Kara tackle racism and homophobia within the Black community, highlighting how the problem is obviously much bigger and more varied than Kylie and her family. Lee-Jones's writing is invigorating, rhythmic and decisive; her rightful indignation shines through the youthful attitude and puts out an unequivocal call to arms.
To keep in line with the real world, Cleo's actions aren't without repercussions. Her "historical dirty laundry" is aired and she is pinned down as problematic when the online world finds the "receipts" of her past homophobia. Besides being an outstanding example of how younger theatre-makers can shine if supported correctly, seven methods of killing kylie jenner is a spectacular debut for Lee-Jones, who certainly is a writer to watch.
Photo credit: Helen Murray