seven methods of killing kylie jenner
January 14, 2023
First a confession: I know the name and dollar-heavy dynasty surrounding Kylie Jenner, but I can't pick her out of a celebrity line-up. Yet, that's the heart of seven methods of killing kylie jenner by the British Royal Court Theatre Production at the Public Theater's Under the Radar Festival running during the APAP conference.
Two dynamic actors Cleo (Leanne Henlon) and Kara (Tina Banon) drag a body across the floor and into a ditch, then begin exchanging riffs on racialized gender politics. Cleo, of strong physical build, rants to her mixed race, more lyrical friend Kara about Jenner. Maddeningly, Jenner receives tons of bucks and publicity for plumping out her lips. Of course, for white girls, that 's sexy; but on black girls it can be ridiculed as is a fully curvaceous body.
On the night I went, Jasmine Lee-Jones' vivid production was riddled with technical problems. Lights went out mid conversation and audio distorted the sound to the point where it was difficult to understand for the first 45 minutes. After gallantly struggling against the technical snafus, the actors left the stage for about a 30 minute break and then returned to complete the show.
Filtered through the twittersphere, Cleo's death-rattling tirades calling out Jenner for maximizing her wealth by appropriating Black features ricochets through the ravenous social media. Stressed by a recent break-up, Cleo unloads on her friend Kara who reminds her that when she revealed her affinity for women, Cleo failed to support her.
In a bedroom, the two young women bring up plenty of issues entwined in the beauty dilemma: what and who is beautiful, who gets to decide and why is it still so important to young women?
Framed by the seven announcements identifying seven ways to kill Kylie Jenner, Cleo rebelliously yells out each different murderous method. In-between each threat, the friends unravel years of misguided acts, girlish taunts, misgivings and heartbreaks.
A highly physical performance directed by Milli Bhatia, the actors are in constant motion, dancing and jumping, broadly gesticulating, singing and reminding us all of the cascading vulnerabilities experienced by young women-of-color.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis