Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner at the Royal Court Theatre
Staging the premiere at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in 2019, writer Jasmine Lee-Jones garnered great praise from audiences and critics alike for her powerful, pithy social commentary. Now playing in the main house, Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner is a timely and topical cultural critique that lingers long after the curtain comes down.
A decaying web hangs over a simple stage and a soundscape of birds tweeting gives way to a shock of strobe lighting as the audience witnesses a body being deposited into a grave. This is Cleo’s (Leanne Henlon) digital dream. She is growing increasingly obsessed with Kylie Jenner and bemoans the fact that the influencer is described as a self-made billionaire, despite being born into great wealth. As her best friend Kara (Tia Bannon) attempts to diffuse Cleo’s venomous anger and put a stop to her tirade of tweets, a series of heated debates ensue. In the space of 90 minutes the girls fervently discuss cultural appropriation, queerness, gender and race in a social media-dominated world.
The themes are weighty; however, Lee-Jones injects a great deal of character-driven humour to successfully balance light and shade. Director Milli Bhatia sustains a solid pace, but it is the exceptional performances of Henlon and Bannon that elevate the production.
The two are incredibly believable as best friends, with excellent chemistry. Displaying impressive physicality, the performers effortlessly flit between acerbic arguments and acting out tweets in stylistic interludes. The dialogue is saturated with social media colloquialisms and cultural references, but there is an underlying pain and anger constantly fighting its way to the surface.
The Internet and in particular social media can be great assets, but, as Lee-Jones inventively explores, the web is also a dark and dangerous place. A memorable and refreshingly original debut that promises exciting things ahead for its innovative and important writer.
Photos: Myah Jeffers
Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner is at the Royal Court Theatre from 16th June until 27th July 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.