seven methods of killing kylie jenner
The Royal Court Theatre prides itself on cultivating emerging writers and voices who have something to say about the State of the Nation. The premise of Lee-Jones’ debut, seven methods of killing kylie jenner, definitely lives up to the tradition of Royal Court Theatre’s ethos of championing unorthodox, unconventional political plays.
This is in many ways a morality play on Blackness and the many identities within this, such as queer Black people and dark-skinned Black women. However, Lee-Jones’ discussion about rich white American influencers profiting off Blackness while discriminating against the women they copy feels foreign on a British stage. Running at 90 minutes, the play is chock full of one-liners, fit for a 240 character tweet, and theoretical buzzwords. At times, it feels like skimming from discourse to discourse (from misogynoir to homophobia in Black communities) stops the audience from ever becoming critically engaged with the matters at hand – not a problem necessarily, except for the majority of the audience is white. Leanne Henlon’s ability to glide through the dialogue as Cleo brings to life what could easily be clunky dialogue. Reading that this production was a revised script has me worrying what the pace of the earlier seven methods must have felt like?
seven methods is commendable for its astute and fervent commentary on race, gender, and class (in America? In Britain?), but is always on the verge of sacrificing substance for style, especially when it comes to the Twitterludes. Turning the platform Twitter into a physical space is no doubt a difficult feat, and has been rendered innovatively in this production. Director Milli Bhatia’s interpretations of these Twitterludes are fun, even if the different accents that Cleo and Kara switch between aren’t always comprehensible, and even if it gets a little hard to separate between the quote tweets, the replies, the gifs as the speed and intensity ramps up during the production. In many respects, though, this edge on which you feel during the Twitterludes emulates the feeling of missing out on the latest Discourse on Twitter because your phone has refreshed too quickly. Rajha Shakiry’s set design infers this as well – as the ropes begin falling from the huge tree that dominates the stage, racists find her tweets, the death threats against Cleo snowball and she loses all control.
If you’re well versed in Black Twitter/Tumblr, then this is the play for you.