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Black Light

Like a cross between Justin Bond and David Bowie, bending gender barriers, Jomama Jones appears in a unique show which is a concert cum confessional.

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Vuyo Sotache, Jomama Jones and Trevor Bachman in “Black Light,” created by Daniel Alexander Jones, at Joe’s Pub at The Public (Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

David Kaufman

David Kaufman, Critic

Some tingling bells quiet the hubbub of the mobbed room at Joe’s Pub at The Public, waiting to see Jomama Jones in Black Light. With some neon lights on the musicians on a raised platform, a disembodied voice emerges from the darkness in the rear of the room. That would belong to Jones herself, or should I say himself? Daniel Alexander Jones, whose performance name is Jomama, is like a cross between Justin Bond and David Bowie, bending gender barriers, among other things.

“What if I told you it’s going to be alright,” asks Jones as she approaches the stage platform. “What if I told you not yet? What if I told you there are trials ahead beyond your deepest fears?”

Thus begins the unique show, Black Light, which is a concert cum confessional. In her sequenced gowns–and there are five costume changes during the 90-minute performance–and with her red lipstick and frizzy, frazzled, dark hair, Jones sometimes provides a strong, alto voice for her intermittent songs, ranging from ballads (“Crossroads”) to hard rock (“Life is motion”).

Jomama Jones in “Black Light,” created by Daniel Alexander Jones, at Joe’s Pub at The Public (Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

She has a much lower (i.e., masculine) speaking voice, which she uses to relate various, interwoven stories: about her youthful idolizing of Prince, her “brilliant” 11th grade “science” teacher, and her Aunt Cleotha, with whom she took “an instantaneous dislike,” given her “taciturn” quality–not to mention the shotgun that was always “next to her” on the back porch of Cleotha’s southern home.

As Jones roams from table to table, she invites an audience-member to rub her, ad libbing, “One must learn to rub the right way.” Though there are any number of ad libs throughout the evening, as is the nature of such a cabaret act, for the most part, Black Light consists of well-scripted tales taken from Jones’ life.

In one song, she repeatedly asks, “Can I get a witness for the need in me,” which essentially defines the show as well as our being there, bearing witness to her need to be seen. She also, at one point, asks, “Am I a living witness, or have I become a passive observer?” and at another, “You see, I’ve left an impression, no?”

Jomama Jones (center) and the company of “Black Light,” created by Daniel Alexander Jones, at Joe’s Pub (Photo credit: Joan Marcus)

And then there’s Jones’s back-up performers (“I call them my Vibrations,” she says, when she introduces them): Tariq Al-Sabir (piano and vocals), Sean Dixon (drums), Trevor Bachman (vocals), Michelle Marie Osbourne (bass), Samora Abayomi Pinderhughes (keyboard and vocals), Josh Quat (guitar and vocals), and Vuyo Sotashe (vocals). The striking costumes have been designed by Oana Botez, and Ania Parks’ lighting effects often put the performers’ faces in colorful profile. And if the show has been created by Daniel Alexander Jones, the songs were written by Jomama Jones–along with Laura Jean Anderson, Bobby Halvorson, Dylan Meek, and Josh Quat.

Black Light (through March 25, 2018)

Public Theater

Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 212-967-7555 or visit http://www.joespub.com

Running time: 90 minutes without an intermission

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David Kaufman
About David Kaufman (72 Articles)
David Kaufman has been covering the theater in New York since 1981. A former theater critic for the New York Daily News, he was also a long-time contributor to the Nation, Vanity Fair, the Village Voice and the New York Times. He is also the author of the award-winning Ridiculous! The Theatrical Life and Times of Charles Ludlam, the best-selling Doris Day: The Untold Story of the Girl Next Door, and his most recent biography, Some Enchanted Evenings: The Glittering Life and Times of Mary Martin.

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