Exploring the knotty relationship between religious faith and sexuality, The Mikvah Project is an honest if somewhat haphazardly written look at love, infatuation and identity.
First seen in 2015 at the Yard, London, Josh Azouz’s emotionally truthful story centres on the growing bond between married, 35 year old Avi and teenager Eitan, whose weekly meetings during a Jewish bathing ritual develop into a hesitant and unconsummated attraction.
Emerging director Georgia Green gives the piece an appealingly exuberant staging, with the performers often literally bouncing around the space with jittery, excitable energy. Water is splashed around liberally. Elaborately garnished cocktail glasses are whipped out of thin air.
Though the production leans firmly into the humorous side of the two men’s tentative and awkward flirtation, there’s plenty of heart here, too. As Avi, Alex Waldmann gives a compellingly nuanced performance, cringing every time he makes himself look uncool in front of his younger friend, his desperate desire to father a child adding an uncomfortably paternal edge to their interactions. Meanwhile, Josh Zaré plays Eitan with a recognisably irreconcilable mix of adolescent awkwardness and swaggering teenage overconfidence.
Cory Shipp’s set is understated, a floor of smooth flagstones surrounding an impressive underlit pool lined with mosaic tiles, into which the performers repeatedly immerse themselves. Lex Kosanke’s sound design builds on the intentionally subdued stillness of this intimate space, adding hollow echoes and yearning, swelling strings, all of which are drowned out at appropriate moments by thumping bursts of playfully selected dance music.