seven methods of killing kylie jenner review:

"This is one of the best plays I’ve ever seen"
Royal Court Theatre downstairs
afridiziak ratings
Review by: Natasher Beecher | @brazencheek
Published: Wednesday 23rd, June 2021, 8:30am

Tia Bannon, Leanne Henlon in seven methods of killing kylie jenner (c) Myah Jeffers
Tia Bannon, Leanne Henlon in seven methods of killing kylie jenner (c) Myah Jeffers

seven methods of killing kylie jenner’ punctuates my personal return to the theatre with an emphatic exclamation mark! The first thing I notice is the white tree sculpture left of the stage. It droops with what looks like giants’ chewing gum. Then, before the lights are even dimmed, the sounds come in – an ethereal, evangelical sonic landscape with birdsong (representing Twitter, innit).

What’s delightfully surprising and dazzling about Jasmine Lee Jones’s writing is the careful balance of provocation, wit and raw truth.

What follows is an unbroken 90 minutes of the deeply moving musings of Cleo, a Black woman and her best friend Kara, also a Black woman (albeit much lighter), after she starts a tirade of tweets describing the ways she might kill Kylie Jenner. It sounds provocative and steeped in youth vernacular, and is, but what’s delightfully surprising and dazzling about Jasmine Lee Jones’s writing is the careful balance of provocation, wit and raw truth.

An exploration of cultural appropriation, queerness, race and friendship was always going to be tricky, but the writing so on point and the performances from Leanne Henlon as Cleo and Tia Bannon as Clara made it feel like the most natural idea for a play in the world. Like, how has this not been written already? Combined with the subtle yet intricate staging, lighting and the aforementioned phenomenal sound design by Elena Peña, this is one of the best plays I’ve ever seen.

Leanne Henlon in seven methods of killing kylie jenner (c) Myah Jeffers
Leanne Henlon in seven methods of killing kylie jenner (c) Myah Jeffers

Milli Bhatia in her direction captures the shifting world perfectly, with movement direction from Delphine Gaborit that weaves interpretive dance (ordinarily not my favourite, I usually find it a bit indulgent) effortlessly into relevance. Henlon and Bannon’s performance as a whole uses all the tools of the stage like they were made just for this play, and the way they fill the space is pure art – not to mention their skilful accents and interpretations of voices of strangers on Twitter.

The voice sound effects add a detail that elevates and enhances the experience. If you’re a play purist, you certainly won’t be disappointed. It’s poetry, both literally and figuratively. I want to say it’s a modern-day Vagina Monologues, or compare it to Shakespeare… but in the spirit of this play’s very essence, comparing this work to the work of white people would be doing it a great disservice.

And that chewing gum tree, designed by Rajha Shakiry and built along with Syeda Bukhari, Ella Callow, and Jemima Robinson really comes into its own later on; where once I was LOLing I’m quickly left speechless with a lump in my throat. But no spoilers.

Leanne Henlon in seven methods of killing kylie jenner (c) Myah Jeffers
Leanne Henlon in seven methods of killing kylie jenner (c) Myah Jeffers

There’s some liberal use of the N word throughout, and I do get slightly lost towards the end – there isn’t really a definitive ending. I do also wonder a few times if white people would get this. Or if non-Londoners would get this. Or if people who aren’t on Twitter would even understand WTF is going on; but in the end, the truth of what’s being said, particularly one monologue in the last third, is a sucker punch that leaves me in tears.

For us black women ‘seven methods of killing kylie jenner’ with its blend of nostalgia and heart, is us being seen and being heard in a way that’s almost too difficult to watch, our collective trauma laid bare.

Tia Bannon, Leanne Henlon in seven methods of killing kylie jenner (c) Myah Jeffers
Tia Bannon, Leanne Henlon in seven methods of killing kylie jenner (c) Myah Jeffers

For us black women ‘seven methods of killing kylie jenner’ with its blend of nostalgia and heart, is us being seen and being heard in a way that’s almost too difficult to watch, our collective trauma laid bare.

For anyone who isn’t black, and white people, in particular, this play will resonate with you in a magical way that you won’t quite understand. But one thing is for sure, this poignant play that goes beyond just the zeitgeist is for everyone. It’s a play for now and for after – a cultural marker of the way the world is changing and needs to change. Everyone should go see it.

Leanne Henlon in seven methods of killing kylie jenner (c) Myah Jeffers
Leanne Henlon in seven methods of killing kylie jenner (c) Myah Jeffers
NEED TO KNOW: seven methods of killing kylie jenner is at the Royal Court Theatre until 27 July. | See listing / more information | Book Tickets


REVIEW OVERVIEW
Five
‘seven methods of killing kylie jenner’ punctuates my personal return to the theatre with an emphatic exclamation mark! The first thing I notice is the white tree sculpture left of the stage. It droops with what looks like giants’ chewing gum. Then, before the...seven-methods-of-killing-kylie-jenner