Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
That said, Lee-Jones takes on cultural appropriation, colorism among Black people, and other incendiary topics through the wide-ranging conversation. What sets off Cleo, who tweets as "incognegro," is when Forbes magazine recognizes Kylie Jenner, beauty and fashion magnate and half-sister of Kim Kardashian, as a "self-made" billionaire despite her family's money and connections. Cleo launches a stream of tweets describing ways she would punish Kylie for, as she sees it, profiting from certain physical qualities of Black women, which she sees as an updated form of blackface.
Cleo and Kara have been friends for many years, but often they see their lives from different perspectives. Cleo is fuller-figured and her skin is darker; she feels that Kara, who is slimmer and has a lighter complexion, doesn't understand that there isn't one single way to live as a woman of color.
As the driver of the action, Henlon gives an intense performance based in physical expression, reaching out and taking up space. She works to reclaim her body from what she considers a form of social colonialism, where white people commodify parts of her lived experience. Bannon counterbalances her with calm and reserve, not understanding that she is simply making Cleo angrier by completely missing the point.
The two actors never have an opportunity to leave the stage during the 90-minute run time, surrounded by audience members on three sides. Rajha Shakiry's scenic design consists mainly of a serviceable platform, but is topped with a large, overhanging free-form sculpture made of tangled white cords (a literalization of "the cloud," perhaps?) that takes on shimmering colors through Jessica Hung Han Yun's lighting design. Elena Peña's sound design channels both the cacophony of internet chatter and echoes of ancestral voices.
The production at Woolly Mammoth originated at the Royal Court Theatre in London and is being presented in association with the Public Theater's Under the Radar Festival in New York City.
seven methods of killing kylie jenner runs through February 26, 2023, at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, 641 D St. NW, Washington DC. For tickets and information, please call 202-393-3939 or visit www.woollymammoth.net.
By Jasmine Lee-Jones