The visual of a body being dragged along the ground and buried beneath the stage is the first scene we are exposed to in Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner and immediately sets the scene for the rest of the play. What follows is a sharp exploration of race relations and cultural appropriation in the modern-day, played against the literal backdrop of a viral Twitter thread.
Following on from the announcement that Kylie Jenner is the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, Cleo (Moreblessing Maturure) becomes committed to tweeting into the ether about how Kylie Jenner profiteered greatly by appropriating Black culture and aesthetics. Ending it with #kyliejennerfidead, Cleo and her friend Kara begin engaging in a Twitter storm as they play tug of war of loaded ideas and words across racial tensions, social divides and the reality of being a Black person in the modern world and in social media.
Written by British playwright Jasmine Lee-Jones and directed here by Australian actress Shari Sebbens, Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner uses Twitter to explore contemporary social values and ideas with the occasional tweet appearing in “real-life” on a lightbox above the stage.
Both Cleo and Zara are relatable and real, even as their behaviour approaches the more obnoxious, and their love and tension drives the narrative in a compelling way. For Cleo, her loud and brash expose on Twitter is reminiscent of so many dialogues that happen online nowadays, whist Cleo’s engagement with ideas like structure racism allows for the discussion around the deeper topics to come to the fore.
Dispersed in between comical memes and other quippy references on the screen, the friendship between Cleo and Kara is on full display. There is chaos, anger and conflict, yet an unbridled love that makes both women feel like two sides of the same coin. As the play reaches its climax, sentences become shortened, akin to a typical social media fight, it verges into the overdramatic and stereotypical.
Regardless, it’s easy to lap up the drama and the brighter comic moments. Yet at its heart, it’s a brutal exploration of what it means to be a Black or brown person living your life in 2021. And for that reason, it’s ground-breaking and unforgettable theatre.