Friday, August 10, 2007
With more ambition than skill, a good deal of A Mikvah attempts a non-linear collage that illustrates its main character's mental and emotional distress on the occasion of a major life crisis. Characters from past and present simultaneously speak (too often in generalities and platitudes) to him and to each other as if in a fragmented dream: dialogue is repeated elliptically, or said in unison, or reduced to phrases that overlap one another. The text is problematic - this heavy-handed mood-making persists long after we're ready for specificity and clarity, and then there's an out-of-nowhere non-fictional supporting character (grown-up JTT, the former child star of Home Improvement) whose sassy brand of world-weary seems to be from a totally different play. Besides some less-than-credible acting from the ensemble (Max Jenkins, as JTT, is an exception) the production suffers from a lack of attention to detail. The highly theatrical style that is attempted here depends very much on the strength of its imagery, and it's sloppy to assign a profound spiritual meaning to water, for example, and then have it carried out on stage in what looks like a plastic storage bin from The Container Store.