Jomama Jones Shines a Black Light on the Future
Spirituality meets activism meets a lot of glitter at the Greenwich House Theater.
If there's one thing Jomama Jones is good at, it's making you feel significant. Whether she's staring you in the eye as she warmly clutches your hand, or painting a picture of the cosmos with you in the center of a pivotal crossroads — she stands statuesquely before you with her sequins and her heels to tell you: You. Matter.
Half cabaret, half revival meeting, Black Light comes to Greenwich House Theater following a run at the Public Theater's Joe's Pub, where Jomama (the divine alter ego of creator Daniel Alexander Jones) first delivered this collection of allegorical memoirs. She sorts through memories of her favorite science teacher, who affirmed her right to feel all of her womanly feelings for pop icon Prince; her arch nemesis Tamika, with whom she got in trouble over a defaced poster of said pop icon; and her southern Aunt Cleotha, who teaches her what it truly means to be a "witness" in times of hardship.
Vuyo Sotashe and Trevor Bachman lend Jones backup vocals on his collection of R&B tunes, none of which stand out as individual entities, but add some smoky contour to the shadowy cabaret environment that scenic designer Gabriel Evansohn has built from the space (lighting design provided by Ania Parks). While Jones changes costume every 20 minutes like a true Vegas diva, Sotashe and Bachman remain a constant presence in their sparkly blue '70s-disco-meets-Star Trek uniforms (costumes designed by Oana Botez), putting us in the middle of what I could only imagine is the futuristic fever dream of first-generation civil rights activists.
Beyond her charm and charismatic storytelling, Jomama, along with director Tea Alagić have molded a piece of performance art with the furtive air of a speakeasy — a hidden-away place where revolution is bubbling and passions are building. The pieces of the show that are not anecdotal are pointed in their address of the violence and oppression still facing African-American communities, and Jones pulls no punches in her calls to action. We're at her church now, and there's as much love to go around as there is rage — and it's up to you how to balance both sides of that coin.
It's also up to you to decide whether grabbing a stranger's hand to feel the universe that exists inside them (one of Jones's many astronomy adjacent metaphors) feels like too earnest a salve for your wounds. If that does sound like a little much, Black Light may not be your speed. But for anyone looking for something to match the earnestness of these dark times, Jomama Jones is here to turn your pain into something beautiful.