Bold and brave in its address of colourism, queer politics, gender, cultural appropriation and colonialism through a black lens and online culture, seven methods of killing Kylie Jenner also serves as an apology.
It pays homage to all historical Black people – particularly Black womxn – whose names are erased by the impacts of colonialism.
Written by Black British playwright Jasmine Lee-Jones, this Darlinghurst Theatre Company iteration, under the direction of Shari Sebbens with the support of an all-POC creative team, is designed to suit a diverse Australian audience.
The action takes place in the home of Cleo (played by Moreblessing Maturure), a young and proud black womxn whose rage is fuelled by a viral Twitter post – a tweet from Forbes Magazine claiming Kylie Jenner to be the youngest “self-made” billionaire at 21.
Cleo retaliates on twitter, using a pseudonym account for a dissertation-style rant. Her tweets and hashtag (#kyliejennerfidead) gains traction online, forcing her queer-identifying best friend Kara (played by Vivienne Awosoga) to face her. Their confrontation forms the premise of the show, into which are woven the seven methods to kill the title character.
The seven (hypothetical) methods are explained in spoken word-like monologues, threaded between conversations between Cleo and Kara, Cleo and her twitter audiences, and Cleo with herself. Judging by the reaction of the diverse audience on opening night, the methods described are extremely uncomfortable yet inviting, showing us a more vulnerable side of Cleo, in contrast to the strong-minded opinionated womxn she is.
Tweets appear on screens hanging above the set. Maturure and Awosoga receive roars of laughter from the audience as they act them out. Each tweet is humoured with nuanced specificities of global accents, inter-generational mannerisms, millennial/Gen Z colloquialism and IM lingo specific to online audiences.
Cleo’s approach to her twitter thread is an excuse to lash out anonymously, and address her frustrations as a young Black womxn. However, she is challenged constantly by her BFF Kara, who is much more reserved online. This creates tension offline between the two friends, raising questions around colourism, queer identity and the history of Black people.
The climax of the show (*spoiler alert*) results in Cleo’s anonymity being exposed. A rift opens up and Kara bars Cleo from any future contact online. Curiously, the story finds some resolution in the friends’ reconciliation, and during an entertaining yet heartwarming seance under the influence of a joint.
Judging by a well-deserved standing ovation on opening night, this production highlights how little we as a society acknowledge and/or appreciate Black womxn for all they have done. The title alone is such a great conversation starter and a great way to address heavy themes.
I speak as someone who isn’t Black, nor a womxn. I can only speak to those elements I identify with as a darker-skinned, Pasifika, heavily-tattooed and queer person.
First is having no shame in admitting about a time in my life when I wanted to be more like the title character, to experience the privilege she has. Second is admitting that we aren’t born into our wokeness; it is something we evolve into as we continually decolonise our own mindset. Finally, being comfortable to talk about and advocate for the liberation of Black people and culture.