Review: seven methods of killing kylie jenner (Royal Court)
The award-winning playwright Jasmine Lee-Jones returns to the Royal Court
After a dynamic run back in 2019, Jasmine Lee-Jones' formally innovative debut play is back at the Court again, this time in the downstairs space and with a few changes to the script.
After Forbes tweets that Instagram model/entrepreneur/inventor of lips Kylie Jenner is now a the youngest ever self-made billionaire, student Cleo (Leanne Henlon) - under the username @incognegro – begins a Twitter thread which spirals out of control. Venting her frustrations that a "YT woman born into rich American family, somehow against all odds, manages to get more rich...", she then begins to detail seven methods to kill the social media mogul such as "method #3, death by drowning". These methods mark each chapter in the play, spliced with reactions from Twitter itself and Cleo explaining her tweets to best friend Kara (Tia Bannon).
One of the main things that's been spoken about this play is how it integrates the language of social media. Too many shows to count try to represent what being online is like – but most just come across as cheesy. Lee-Jones' play, however, gets it. The script is littered with iconic gifs, emojis and acronyms and director Milli Bhatia has the actors acting out each GIF, convulsing, smiling widely, strutting the stage and over-exaggerating each movement and phrase. It's sharply funny and the audience laughs with recognition, but as the play wears on these moments become filled with fury – they're faster, scarier. Elena Peña's sound design of birdsong is threatening as "ha"s turn into squawks and the white threads that hang above the stage (beautifully designed by Rajha Shakiry) begin to collapse; two ropes swing. This is the other side of Twitter, the nasty side you can see when your words get swept up by big groups, how anonymity allows pile-ons.
Seven methods covers a huge amount of ground, including social media activism and colourism, as the two friends pick apart their relationship and the damage they've done to each other. Performances by both Bannon and Henlon are electric. They are both funny and full of fire, effortlessly moving between "IRL" and the Twittersphere. There's a Post-Mortem, a moment of calm, which is an excellent addition. Interestingly, there's an optional pre-meditation added in the script, contextualising the performance as post-2019, which isn't used in this outing.
In short, this play is pure dynamite. I'd even say it'll be one we are going to look back on and say was a defining moment in theatre.