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REVIEW: seven methods of killing kylie jenner is vital and raw

iPhoto caption: Photo by Dahlia Katz.
/By / May 22, 2024

How would you kill Kylie Jenner?

Would you drain the socialite of her contacts, her best friends with money to burn and gossip to spill? Or would you cut her open and let her bleed the billions of dollars she’s made shilling cosmetics and other wares emblazoned with her name? Maybe you could burn her alive, using a juicy scandal as an accelerant, and watch paparazzi feast on the ashes of the youngest Jenner sibling.

Jenner is both a symptom of and contributor to late-stage capitalism, sister to supermodel Kendall and half-sister to celebutantes Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney Kardashian. Jenner was named a self-made billionaire in 2019 — an accolade many found problematic due to the hordes of generational wealth she used to launch her various businesses — and she’s been the subject of tabloid fodder since her early childhood. Currently, she’s best known for maybe dating Timothée Chalamet — when I was in high school, it was for her “lip kits,” overpriced makeup sets that included a liquid lipstick and lipliner, which the consumer was expected to use to overline their lips in the hopes of making them look bigger.

And that there’s the rub: Jenner, who is white, has a history of appropriating elements of Black beauty for her own gain, even as those traits have long been wielded against Black women for deviating from the thin lips and slim builds of the Western beauty standard. When Jenner sports an overlined lip, it’s trendy; when a Black woman wears her lips naturally, in all their fullness, it’s vulgar. When Jenner or her sisters sport a perfectly toned, juicy ass, it’s the epitome of high fashion; when Black women do the same, it’s an affront.

In Jasmine Lee-Jones’ seven methods of killing kylie jenner, produced by Obsidian Theatre in association with Crow’s, two young Black women, Kara (Jasmine Case) and Cleo (Déjah Dixon-Green), grapple with Jenner and her place in the cultural zeitgeist. Written in 2019, the play already feels like a time capsule for pre-pandemic teendom — references to Internet memes of the day abound — and staged within the cosy Studio Theatre space at Crow’s, around a sleepover-ready bed littered with Squishmallow stuffed animals, the production is raw and electric, a perfect treatment of a play that will be deeply relatable to anyone who’s grown up under the shadow of the Kardashian-Jenner clan. Kara often percusses her speech with drags from a fruit-flavoured vape (which, yes, we can smell from the audience — it’s an intimate space) — it’s a smart choice from director Jay Northcott, who along with a talented roster of designers has brilliantly situated the play in dialogue with the claustrophobia of the internet.

Cleo drives the action of the play — she opens the play by tweeting about wanting to kill Jenner, which sparks a social media frenzy as digital gawkers attempt to work out who she is — and Dixon-Green is stunning in the role. Clad in a bandana-print pajama set and cropped hoodie (costumes by Des’ree Gray), she commands the small playing space, balancing the centuries-long disenfranchisement of Black women with the changing-by-the-minute lingo of the digital sphere. Both Cleo and Kara punctuate their speech with text-friendly initialisms: LOL, SMH, LMAO, et cetera. It’s a quirk of the play that makes it feel divided between a rapid text exchange and an in-person hangout session — both Dixon-Green and Case nimbly navigate the lingo, incorporating it into their characters rather than letting the jumbles of letters interfere with their pacing.

Case’s Kara clings to the edges of Cleo’s bedroom, speaking less and bottling up the anger that’s chipped away at her since early youth. Case offers a superb performance, with the same richly animated face that made her so easy to watch in YPT’s Truth earlier this season, and by the play’s climax, she allows repressed emotions to bubble to the surface in a tender moment of coming-of-age that’s heartbreaking to watch. Together, Case and Dixon-Green are magic, an excellent duo who are as believable as best friends as they are adversaries. Lee-Jones has written a smart, searing play, with more to it than the Kylie Jenner of it all — the work’s reflections on Sarah Baartman, a South African woman who was toured around Europe as a circus attraction in the 19th century, are biting and profound.

Nicholas Blais’ screen-filled set perfectly suits the content of the play, and offers dozens of surfaces for memes, tweets, and other sediments of internet culture to rest. Maddie Bautista’s sound design similarly evokes the anxiety of a world dominated by pings, beeps, and dings — it’s a fantastic soundscape I hope Dora jurors remember come awards time.

seven methods of killing kylie jenner is a slam dunk, a poignant meditation on Black womanhood, internet culture, and the cult of celebrity. I do wish the play had been fully rejigged to be set in Toronto — right now, small visual cues and a handful of throwaway references imply a Toronto setting, while the original play is set in the U.K. and features oodles of British slang like “innit” and “taking the piss” that sound a touch out of place in a North American accent — but this is a small complaint against an otherwise gorgeous production.

seven methods of killing kylie jenner runs until June 2 at Crow’s Theatre. Tickets are available here.

Intermission reviews are independent and unrelated to Intermission’s partnered content. Learn more about Intermission’s partnership model here.

Aisling Murphy

Aisling Murphy

Aisling is Intermission's senior editor and an award-winning arts journalist with bylines including the Toronto Star, NEXT Magazine, CTV News Toronto, and Maclean's. She likes British playwright Sarah Kane, most songs by Taylor Swift, and her cats, Fig and June.



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