Cleo has had enough of Kylie Jenner. Of the way she appropriates black bodies and culture, and of the way that her fanbase fetishises “the youngest self-made billionaire”, as tweeted by Forbes. So, she sends out a few tweets herself, detailing seven suggestions of ways in which to bring to an end this con artist-cum-provocateur. With interjections from the twittersphere, the backlash from profiles – vocally embodied in Milli Bhatia’s production by its two starring actors, Tia Bannon and Danielle Vitalis – Jasmine Lee-Jones has crafted a meme-saturated dialogue tangled between an open and upfront story of friendship.
Seated either side of the traverse, a tiered wooden stage sits still under an overhanging web of tangled white string, like some kind of carefully cut and crafted tree made out of strips of shredded paper. Rajha Shakiry’s design is beautifully haunting over a lit grave which buries the traumas of years gone by.
Lee-Jones’ script is an artistic triumph. With a text that’s so digital in its format and physical print, with sections of memes and twitter-feeds, it’s almost jarring that the staging is totally non-digital; not a screen in sight. And it’s taken me a bit of time to realise how gorgeously refreshing this is. Instead of video projection and screens, the world on stage transitions from IRL (in real life) to Twitterlude through movement and lighting states. We are reminded of the liveness of the stagecraft.
Bannon and Vitalis both flawlessly absorb and expel their respective characters, with a back and forth wit that includes talk about sex and orgasms, and questioning whether or not the word “wank” is gender-neutral. Bannon is light on her feet and warm in her demeanour, though a trauma lurks beneath the surface and emotions are put to the test as an old homophobic tweet from 2014 is discovered from her best friend’s twitter feed. Vitalis effortlessly shifts between the various twitter personas whilst exhibiting both a wonderful flair for comedy and an essence of deep hurt.
Towards the end of the play, there’s a calming image of two friends holding hands, smoking a joint, and howling with absolute laughter. It goes on for a bit. And then a bit longer. It’s the definition of joy and friendship. They suddenly become aware of their audience, the spectators. In this moment, they acknowledge a shared space, of performing and watching. In a play dominated by the digital sphere, there’s something gloriously human about these final interactions, of touch and eye contact and laughter.
seven methods of killing kylie jenner is playing the Royal Court Theatre until 27 July. For more information and tickets, see the Royal Court website.