Theatre review: seven methods of killing kylie jenner, Malthouse Theatre

Celebrity culture, Twitter and the commodification of Black women all combine in a potent brew.

As darkness falls on the audience the two cast members drag a body-like figure wrapped in a quilt across the stage in the night. This object is then dumped under removable flooring in a bedroom. One of the cast members jumps into bed and falls asleep. It’s a very clever set-up heralding the dark humour to come.

Jasmine Lee-Jones’ award-winning play, seven methods of killing kylie jenner, has received much acclaim in Sydney and Brisbane, and now it is Melbourne’s turn to experience this refreshing piece of theatre. The story takes place post the controversial tweet when Forbes magazine declared Kylie Jenner to be a ‘self-made billionaire’. Social media activist Cleo, played by Chika Ikogwe, outraged by this announcement, outlines the seven methods she would use to kill Kylie Jenner. Cleo’s best friend Kara, played by Iolanthe, attempts to be the voice of reason as she witnesses her friend and Twitter spiral at what ensues. The conversations the friends have are witty, authentic and, like this play, not afraid to call things out.

Perhaps the most effective technique Lee-Jones uses is to bring the Twitterverse, including emojis, to life. This is complemented by the direction of Zindzi Okenyo and Shari Sebbens to punch up our experience with projections of memes and wicked physical humour. Fans of meme and GIF culture will be deeply satisfied. As the Twitterverse begins to heat up, the girls’ friendship is also trialled and the depths of their characters are exposed – flaws and all. 

Lee-Jones fearlessly dives into the complex topic and intersections of colourism and queerness: Cleo is a dark-skinned Black woman and Kara a light-skinned Black woman. Ikogwe’s performance is commanding, emotive, raw yet controlled and met with silence from the audience as they drink in her words. Iolanthe’s performance evokes a deep empathic response, as she plays Kara, a mixed-race queer woman coming to terms with her friend’s actions from the past. However, a lot is left to unpack with their friendship and the subject matter, just as it is often IRL (in real life).

As Cleo and Kara’s friendship crashes, the Twitter timeline too crashes, enhanced by smart technical choices. It raises the question about how much of social media is just for the internet and how much bleeds into our lives? The energy of the play draws into a moment of spirituality created by hypnotic lighting and sound, leaving hope that Black women have the power to ‘move forward’ even through the pain of past and present.

Read: Book review: Compulsion, Kate Scott

seven methods of killing kylie jenner is a bold and hilarious reflection on social media, celebrity culture and Black womanhood. What further sets this ground-breaking piece of theatre apart is how much care is taken to curate an experience for the community. The show starts when you arrive at the theatre. The audience is greeted with music of Afrobeats and Amapiano to set the ambience. Post-show there is a curated VYB night program complemented with food of African origin. It is a testament to the way in which theatre is there to bring community together.

seven methods of killing kylie jenner by Jasmin Lee-Jones
A Darlinghurst Theatre Company and Green Door Theatre Company co-production
Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne
Co-directors: Zindzi Okenyo and Shari Sebbens
Cast: Iolanthe and Chika Ikogwe

Tickets $80
seven methods of killing kylie jenner will be performed until 29 January 2023.

This review has been commissioned in partnership with Diversity in Australian Media.
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Chido Mwat is a Zimbabwean comedian, writer, film and web content maker living in Naarm (Melbourne, Australia). She performed her first full length show 'She-Nanigans The Show' at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and Fringe Festival 2022. In 2022 Chido was selected to participate in the Melbourne Theatre Company x Emerging Writers's Festival program First Stage. Her writer/directorial debut short 'For Becky' has been featured on SBS on demand, placed third at the Sunshine Short Film Festival (2021), and was an official section at the African Smartphone International Film Festival (2021). Chido has produced online content for the Department of Family, Fairness and Housing to promote COVID Safe behaviour and was a writer for a series of TikToks by Cinespace about anti-racism.