Raves in Washington Jewish Week and Metro Weekly (4 Stars)

 

   

Tonya Beckman Ross and Amal Saade

Read the entire Washington Jewish Week review here.

And below are highlights from METRO WEEKLY’s 4-STAR review of MIKEH:

[Sarah] Marshall is perfectly wonderful in the role of Shoshana. Her measured grace and deeply nuanced performance is marked by a kind of underplaying. No large gestures. No big movements. It’s a lovely turn that ties wonderfully to the rest of the ensemble.

[Lise] Bruneau gives great shape to the role of Shira, a role that could easily dissolve into a one-dimensional, liberated woman caricature. Bruneau invests her talents wisely, bringing a simple spontaneity to the stage. It’s as though the character’s life is truly unfolding before our eyes.

Mention must also be made of the performances delivered by [Kim] Schraf, as a truly great bitch, and [Tonya] Beckman Ross, as a truly great bitch whom you’d want to go out drinking with.

In the end, it’s the chemistry and connectedness of the entire ensemble of strong female actors that succeeds in making Mikveh something quite wonderful. Familiar, and wonderful.

And here’s the really beautifully detailed review by Lisa Traiger in the Washington Jewish Week including the following: 

Director Shirley Serotsky pulls back the curtain on the ritual for uninitiated audiences: Viewers see the women immerse, completely nude, behind a translucent curtain. Modestly positioned and sculpturally lit, it’s a beautiful tribute to the mitzvah — ritual commandment. These private moments, one at the start of the play, another two later in the evening, embody the sacred and the spiritual in a holy act.

I find it hard for any but the most fervent fundamentalist or modest viewers to object to this rendition of the practice. Serotsky’s mikvah moment reflects in its quiet dignity the Jewish concept of hiddur mitzvah, or beautifying a ritual act….

Theater J has taken tremendous care to present Mikveh in a modest and appropriate fashion. For those who will take affront to seeing a female body immerse, this play — as many others at Theater J and elsewhere — is not for them. For others who seek a glimpse of a community to which most non-Orthodox Jews don’t have access, Mikveh is an interesting cultural glimpse behind the curtain.

Foremost, though, Mikveh focuses on two strong women who wrestle with their own moral truths and how they live with their choices and what those reflect or reject within this most-Orthodox of sects.

Aside from its ethical underpinnings, Mikveh gives voice to seven women in a powerful play that features no male characters. It recalls great American Jewish playwright Wendy Wasserstein’s first stage work, Uncommon Women, which also featured no men. She famously said she wrote her own work for an all-female cast because she wanted to see only women stand and bow for the curtain call.

Theater J’s latest production — part of the Voices of a Changing Middle East: Women’s Voices festival — pays quiet homage to the late Wasserstein in its own moving bow and throughout by giving voice to an often silent subset of Jewish women.”