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Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner review – Royal Court

Leanne Henlon as Cleo (photo: Myah Jeffers)

The Royal Court is back with a banger.

First seen in the small upstairs space in 2019, Jasmine Lee-Jones’s debut play, directed by Milli Bhatia, returns on the main stage to kick off a new season at Sloane Square’s famous venue.

It’s classic Royal Court fare: Provocative? Check  Political? Check. Relevant? Check. Passionate? Thought-provoking? Shitloads of swearing? Check. Check. Check. 

At the heart of this powerful exploration of race, cultural appropriation and queerness through the prism of social media are two unforgettable performances from Leanne Henlon and Tia Bannon.

Henlon plays Cleo, a black woman who responds to the double standards around Kylie Jenner’s lip fillers by tweeting a thread of death threats against the billionaire reality TV star. Cleo’s never lost for words and speaks in social media slang at 100mph. Henlon imbues her with magnificent rage and pathos.

Bannon is funny, vulnerable and passionate as her mixed race friend Kara. A yin to Cleo’s yang.

Aside from Cleo’s hash-tagged fantasies of celebrity homicide, the play’s clever structure divides the scenes into real-world exchanges between the two friends, and what Jasmine Lee-Jones describes in her playtext as “Twitterludes”.

These see Henlon and Bannon bring a Twitterstorm into physical form – including emojis, memes and GIFs – in superbly choreographed sequences of sound and movement, which put me in mind of the chorus in ancient Greek drama.

Lee-Jones’s energetic script doesn’t skimp on modern-day zingers. One of Cleo’s Kylie Jenner tweets reads: ‘The last flash of light she’ll see/ Will not be a selfie/ But the coroner’s camera.”

I can’t not mention Rajha Shakiry’s surreal set design which I took to represent the Twittersphere as a huge cumulonimbus of neurons suspended over the stage.

While the play does occasionally feel more like dissertation than drama, and ends awkwardly, this is a shockingly original 90 minutes that really should be seen.

Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner is at the Royal Court, Sloane Square, London until 27 July.

Amelie The Musical review – Criterion Theatre

Audrey Bresson as Amelie (photo: Pamela Raith)

If you like your theatrical menu du jour to include singing goldfish, killer figs, a nun in a sex shop and possibly the best Elton John impression of all time then Amelie The Musical will be your tasse de thé.

Based on the 2001 film starring Audrey Tautou as the waitress who devotes herself to small acts of kindness in 1990s Paris, this musical by Daniel Messe, Nathan Tysen and Craig Lucas has arrived in the West End via Broadway, a UK tour and a pre-pandemic run at London’s The Other Palace. 

Michael Fentiman’s feel-good production surrounds Audrey Brisson’s immensely likable Amelie with a talented cast of wandering actor-musicians who play multiple characters while simultaneously providing the score.

While the stage does at times seem slightly overcrowded, one can’t help watch in admiration as the cast members navigate the set while vigorously playing a violin or coaxing mournful notes from a cello hooked around their necks. 

Stand out songs include The Girl with the Glass, sung by Amelie and her Renoir-loving artist neighbour Dufayel (Johnson Willis), and Caolan McCarthy’s pitch perfect take on Elton John as Amelie fantasises herself into Princess Diana’s funeral.

Madeleine Girling’s impressive set design conjures up the beauty of Montmartre, as well as the Metro and Notre Dame, with the ingenious use of two upright pianos and a revolving photo booth. 

After months of Covid misery for the theatre industry, this show feels like a joyful – if somewhat surreal – shot in the arm.

Je l’adore.

Amelie The Musical is at the Criterion Theatre, booking to 25 September.