by Romy Foster
Kylie Jenner has just been announced as the world’s first ‘self-made billionaire’ and Cleo is VEX. Feeling this is undeserved, she has launched a tirade of tweets from her anonymous Twitter account @Incognegro about how to kill a social media entrepreneur or, as Cleo thinks of her, a ‘con artist-cum-provocateur’. She is now shut in her bedroom receiving persistent whatsapps from best friend Kara, who is worried about Cleo’s online rant.
To see these experiences of two young black women portrayed on stage so honestly and uncensored is refreshing for other young black women. The inclusion of poetry extracts, slang and memes also help make it relatable to its target audience. Never in my life did I ever think I’d watch a play at the Royal Court with a black girl in her PJs and a durag on her head, but it’s so important that young black women can finally see themselves represented.
Though comical almost all the way through, the subject matter is serious. Addressing the policing of black women’s bodies and what society deems as beautiful, Jasmine Lee-Jones’ writing is powerful, thought-provoking and truthful. The play serves as a very much-needed, educational conversation on the experiences of black women all over the world and the struggles we face just trying to exist.
It becomes almost uncomfortable when Cleo and Kara read out the ‘replies’ from her original tweet where people would call her ‘ugly’, ‘droplip’, ‘blik’, and even the n-word. Unfortunately, these are phrases us black women have directed at us on a daily basis. Progressing from these themes, the script takes on the difference in experiences between light-skinned and dark-skinned black women – a topic rarely discussed despite its prevalence.
By the end of the show, the set is overwhelming. A giant cloud with multiple hanging ropes reminds me of all the people social media has strung up and ‘cancelled’. There is a kind of burial ceremony of a duvet stuffed with some old wigs and clothes at the end, and a joint smoked to symbolise overcoming black girl trauma and honouring freedom of speech for so many women who haven’t had their voices heard. It’s a nice touch.
Both Tia Bannon’s and Danielle Vitalis’ performances are visceral and gritty. They are forces to be reckoned with in this production that will, hopefully, have resounding impact in British theatre.
seven methods of killing kylie jenner runs through 27 July at the Royal Court in London.
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