While the title of Jasmine Lee-Jones’ play is provocative by anyone’s standards, there is more to it than meets the eye. Broaching a broad range of subjects, from colourism, social media etiquette, internalised racism, cultural appropriation and a raft of other issues, seven methods of killing kylie jenner (which is directed Milli Bhatia) is a layered treatise on cultural identity that can’t be pigeonholed.
Cleo (Leanne Henlon) and Kara (Tia Bannon) are two 20-something friends who known each other since primary school. Both are ‘women of colour’ (Cleo is dark-skinned, while Kara is mixed race), but while there is some overlap in their experiences, their respective outlook on identity and dealing with emotional trauma couldn’t be more different.
Two tweets that garner incendiary traction prompts Kara to get in contact with Cleo, to see what’s prompted her ‘outbursts’. This ‘investigation’ prompts a mutually candid, if turbulent, discussion about their pet gripes.
Each of the ‘seven methods’ are expressed throughout the play – all meant to symbolically or literally represent an apt judgement for particular ‘transgressions’ Jenner has allegedly committed with regards ‘cultural appropration’ and her ‘undeserved success’. And with each trending tweet Cleo sends, we hear how different demographics around the world respond to her emphatic outbursts.
However, nothing in the play is ever about the ‘surface of things’ – the most literal interpretation of actions and events. As Kara tries to get to the heart of why Cleo posts her vitriolic tweets, we discover that Cleo’s anger stems from a deeply rooted anger in personal circumstances, as well as the ‘double standards’ of female beauty when white- and black culture are compared.
But while Cleo’s anger is a warning about the unhealthy ways of venting frustrations with the imperfect way the world works, there is also a lesson about being blind to one’s own faults on a personal level and how they sometimes fall short of our professed values. On social media, nothing is ever forgotten and the ‘sins’ of the past are often raised to humble the famous.
Behind the anonymous social media profiles, outspoken personalities of all persuasions often vent uncompromising opinions. But once anonymity is taken away, there are always consquences…
© Michael Davis 2022
Following the successes of its sold-out 2019 premiere and subsequent run in 2021 at the Royal Court Theatre, seven methods of killing kylie jenner is now available to stream worldwide until 17th April. Tickets are £10 for a 48-hour rental.