It’s really not often that a new play feels so electric, funny, and fierce that the audience alternates between literally falling off their seats with laughter, and stunned soulful silence. Dammit, I’m just going to say it, Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner is the best new play I’ve seen in years.
When the youngest of the Kardashian/Jenner clan is hailed as a ‘self-made billionaire’, university student Cleo (Moreblessing Maturure) hits twitter with her condemnation and an analytical dissection of how problematic the statement is. As her thread grows, she details the seven styles of retribution she’d like to see under the hashtag #kyliejennerfidead. Her best friend Kara (Vivienne Awosoga) probes and pokes at Cleo to get under her skin, to the root of her fury… and then the Internet starts to take notice.
23-year-old British playwright Jasmine Lee-Jones (the play debuted at London’s Royal Court Theatre to acclaim in 2019) has written a work that is as razor sharp as it is layered, tackling more issues than a Marvel movie has punches. Lee-Jones picks apart and examines Blackness, sexism, social media, colonialism, female sexuality, cancel culture, consumerism, queer life, family, religion, and more in a 90-minute firestorm of rage and humour.
Cleo is a brilliant protagonist; smart, passionate, funny, and as delicate as she is strong. Watching her verbally spar with Kara is like watching Rocky circling an opponent in the ring. Their friendship has the strength and elasticity to bounce back from the sharpest, most honest of blows. Lee-Jones’ writing balances the issues with the characters, giving them all space to be explored; a remarkable feat in such a short play.
Initially, I questioned how the specificity of the Black London-centric humour would play on the other side of the world in Eastern Sydney, but without fail the performers had the audience wrapped around their fingers, right up to a finale that turns the tables on the whole auditorium.
I’ve not seen a debut play this smart or this good in… I don’t know how long. Ever, perhaps? Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner is that perfect recipe of a distinctly Black female voice, two smart and skilled young Black female performers, and a cultural moment that’s finally ready to listen and amplify them.
In a local theatrical season that is about to tackle race with heavy-hitting classics like a new production of Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman with an all-Black cast, Darlinghurst Theatre has beaten them all to the punch with Jasmine Lee-Jones’ play. Don’t miss this.
By Chad Armstrong
Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner plays at the Darlinghurst Theatre Company and has been extended another week to Sun May 9th 2021. For more details and to purchase tickets, head to the Darlinghurst Theatre Company website.