Associate New York Critic
“We are stardust, we are golden/We are billion-year-old carbon/And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.” (“Woodstock” by Joni Mitchell)
Jomama is the performer and alter ego of Daniel Alexander Jones who created the production “Black Light” now playing at Greenwich House Theater after a successful run at Joe’s Pub. She is a soul sonic superstar and when she speaks of a supernova the audience better listen up because her presence personifies the definition of that phenomenon perfectly. She is a star that suddenly increases in brightness until she explodes ejecting masses of stardust that fills the hearts and minds of the audience, so they may be able to get themselves back to the garden. In this explosion the mold that has tried to form our identity and control decisions is shattered and you are left at a crossroad which can determine who you really are and where you want to be. Don’t misconstrue, Jomama is not a preacher or a politician, but a revelation, clad in fabulous fashion delivering her message with soulful songs that embrace you with a warm understanding of life as it is.
She asks if we could be a witness, not just a passive observer but a living witness, “which means you take responsibility for what you see.” So, if you are willing to observe, see what is happening, you must react. Listening to stories, vividly describing events happening down South about her Aunt Cleotha, will captivate your imagination as you visualize the experience as if you were there. The memories not only conjure up a great deal of emotion but teach lessons that will possibly allow us to see just a little better in the “Black Light.” She asks that we hold hands with someone in the audience you do not know, close your eyes, so you may feel the universe, full of triumphs and faults. Then still holding hands, you open your eyes and there is the “harsh light, when all of our faults and our fears and our failings are visible .” We survive until the future light when we can “See Things as They Are”.
Jomama is accompanied by her incredible four-piece ensemble and two extremely wordly vocalists, Trevor Bachman and Vuyo Sotashe by her side. Their mere presence is an uplifting support and their voices fill the air with an eerie hope. At one point, Jomama addresses the supernova as a star at the end of its life cycle.
“But I wonder, if something must die in order for some new thing to be born. Something like, say, an idea - an idea about ourselves, an idea about each other, the way that we relate to one another, maybe an idea that moves beyond all the categories, the boxes we like to put one another in, maybe even an idea as unwieldy, and contradictory, as the idea of a nation?”
When you leave the theater what you realize is that the time you experienced with Jomama may be over, in a sense it has died, but be reassured that something was certainly born, for many will begin to see what has always been right front of them, and proudly bear witness.
Jomama Jones stars in “Black Light.” The band includes Tariq Al-Sabir (musical director, piano and vocals), Trevor Bachman (vocals), Sean Dixon (drums), Krystal Hawes (vocals), Michelle Marie Osbourne (bass), Josh Quat (guitar and vocals) and Vuyo Sotashe (vocals).
Black Light features scenic design by Gabriel Evansohn, lighting design by Ania Parks, costume design by Oana Botez and sound design by Nick Kourtides. Maximum Entertainment Productions serves as General Manager. Black Light is produced by Diana DiMenna.
“Black Light” runs at Greenwich House Theater (27 Barrow Street) through Monday, December 31, 2018. For the schedule of performances and to purchase tickets, visit https://www.nycblacklight.com/. Running time is 1 hour and 30 minutes without intermission.
Photo: Daniel Alexander Jones as Jomama Jones in “Black Light.” Credit: Chad Batka.