This unusual piece of theatre was performed by Vivienne Awosoga (Kara) and Moreblessing Maturure (Cleo). Both are women of colour – I share a Zimbabwean heritage with Moreblessing. Much of the play resonated with situations and expressions that I could identify with.
I was told that the show would probably be musical, being at the Eternity Theatre venue, however apart from the steady rap like delivery of lines at the beginning of each of its seven parts, the show was a play in style. It was ninety minutes long, and without interval.
The show’s structure was ingenious, and based on virtual twitter conversations developing from Cleo’s imaginary hate campaign against a white billionaire online influencer, Kylie Jenner. Using the anonymous text of twitter (including emoticons and GIF files) as script for stage dialogue allows pitched excitable dramatic speech, blending avatars with real characters. This was a great technique.
The acting, under direction of Shari Sebbens, was phenomenal. The actors had a long script to deliver, and acting was very much “in the moment”, confined within a 3*3 metre tight area of stage. Kate Baldwin (lighting), Keerthi Subramanyam (production design) and Wendy Yu (Audio Visual design) all did a great job in staging the show’s intense style.
There was little plot, apart from that on social media. Intensity came from the reflection on race – in history and in the experience of the characters. There is a lot to identify with in the racy dialogue by UK playwright Jasmine Lee-Jones — the things people go through, their lived experiences. The show generally touched many things black people struggle with – gender, separation, and racism.
The structure and dialogue provided a big dynamic to the show, including a lot of humour and empathy, but finally other elements of character, story and context could have been developed to add more to the dynamic. Where is the show set? Where is it going? The abstract structure provided a dynamic of its own but it came at the cost of elements that would have added to identification.
It was an intense show, and not always easy to hear. This could have been due to the pace of dialogue and delivery, and due to various dialects including techno anagrams. Dialogue does not need to be 100% clear to be authentic. It is a question of balance. Perhaps an interval might have assisted in the audience’s focus on the busy script.
I am not sure why the producers excluded reviewers not of colour. Were they seeking a particular audience response? Were they worried about responses to the content or quality of the show? There was no need for any of this. The audience gave the show an almost unanimous standing ovation. They loved and appreciated the show.
There is nothing hidden in this show. Issues we might hide from or try to forget are all on display, in a show that managed to make a lot of meaning and also entertain at the same time.
SEVEN METHODS OF KILLING KYLIE JENNER is playing the Eternity Playhouse, Darlinghurst until Sunday 2nd May, 2021.