Ma’at Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theatre, at Victory Gardens Studio Theater.

Life is harsh for little girls in the projects: the tomboyish Brown and the studious Shadow play at smoking reefer using pencil shavings and notebook paper and skip rope to rhymes about fatherless children. By the time the girl everyone calls Baby graduates from eighth grade, she’s been raped by an anonymous tradesman and has undergone a home abortion and witnessed the death of a classmate who fell off a high-rise roof. Baby is accompanied by an invisible companion–representing everything from her own innocent soul to the fickle Goddess of the Urban Poor–who eventually pushes the hapless girl to madness and suicide.

Nambi E. Kelley’s MiLK paints a picture of a brutal world whose denizens are ruthlessly exploited by ignorant authorities, then forced to deny their own truth. Director Mignon McPherson and choreographer Lisa Biggs, assisted by the Obaki jazz ensemble and an enthusiastic cast (in particular Magaly Colimon as Baby’s mischievous doppelganger), blend dialogue and dance, gritty realism and ancient folklore, to fashion a production in which some of the individual parts may be so abstract they’re incomprehensible but the whole emerges as an imaginative, nicely crafted pageant of transcendental beauty, like sunshine on broken glass.