Review: Hello Kitty Must Die, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh ★★★★☆

Photo: Justin Barbin

by Natalie Evans

To kick off this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival visit, I had the pleasure of seeing the musical adaptation of Angela S Choi’s contemporary cult classic Hello Kitty Must Die. Simply staged, with a large dose of multi-rolling, and a killer (pardon the pun) soundtrack, this new satire joins the roster of fantastically funny modern musicals such as Six. It is no surprise that both of these productions were produced by the same company, and I can very easily imagine Hello Kitty Must Die following in Six’s stiletto-heeled footsteps, from fringe phenomenon to award-winning West End success.

While fiercely feminist in its themes, the company has done well not to teeter into preachy territory. The representation of a female Chinese-American experience was both celebrating and dissecting this social positionality. I also thoroughly appreciated the representation of asexuality as something that didn’t need to define Fiona’s story, but rather just be validated and moved on from.

However, one comment that didn’t sit fantastically with me was when Fi stated that she would be offended that her murderous friend was trying to ditch her for his next kill “if she was any other girl”, to which he predictably responded that she wasn’t “any other girl”. Now, admittedly, this interaction was the one and only predictable thing about this play, and the observation was of course true in the sense that most girls aren’t aiding and abetting their childhood friend’s fatal felonies, but it came across a little reminiscent of the ‘pick me, I’m just one of the boys’ trope, and therefore a little contradictory to the message of the play.

Additionally, as someone who had not read the source material beforehand and so had genuinely no clue where the plot was going, the momentum did start to falter for me at around the 40-minute mark. I’m not entirely sure whether this comes down to the cast are still settling into their characters, or if more frequent songs could have helped, but I did find my mind beginning to wander until they pulled me right back in with the finale. The ending sequence reprising the titular song was a perfect way to tie up the narrative cleanly and truly packed a punch.

The music was a definite highlight – the stand-out being Mr Happy, the song about Fi’s trusty phallic sidekick, possibly due to the relatability of finding out that hymens are somewhat of a myth. Her journey to discovering that her family honour may have in fact been broken by a deep squat, or perhaps never even existed at all, was both a thoroughly comedic, and entirely tragic example of how women have been outright lied to for generations in order to discourage sexual freedom.

Overall, this unapologetic display of feminine rage was a joy to witness, and as far as feline femme fatales go, Catwoman looks pretty docile compared to Fiona Yu, and we should all follow her example of refusing to be domesticated.

Hello Kitty Must Die is on at the Pleasance Courtyard (Pleasance Two) until the 27th August.