REEMERGENCE, Black Sphota Cocoon, at Holy Covenant United Methodist Church. In its debut production, this performance collective of African-American women demonstrates an austere, imagistic style all its own. Performing in a bare church with hardly a prop, they strive for a kind of visual purity that's richly resonant, representing the thrill and terror of pregnancy, for example, by rolling a red balloon slowly along a thick rope in midair. They're also unafraid to challenge some of the sacrosanct familial institutions of African-American culture. In the first piece, Arie Thompson's Summer of Four Generations, the link between mothers and daughters is as debilitating as it is empowering, both bond and bondage. And in Kim Crutcher's Mother's Right Thumbprint, a mother's valiant effort to raise "warrior" daughters leaves them vulnerable to abusive men--never encouraged to challenge their authoritarian father, they've learned to fight only other women.
In "Reemergence" Black Sphota Cocoon shows great promise, both in terms of style and content. But they're still struggling for fluency in their own theatrical vocabulary, too often explaining away their more evocative images as if they didn't yet trust their own vision. For much of the evening the performers simply mill about, with apparently only a perfunctory emotional investment in their material. It feels as though the ensemble lacked a foil to push them, resulting in an interesting but diluted evening.