From the writer of In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) comes a comedy about clean homes and messy lives as New Theatre presents the Sydney premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s The Clean House for a limited season from 8 June 2017.
Matilde has moved to the United States after her parents – the funniest couple in Brazil – literally died laughing. She is hired as a live-in maid by Lane, a successful doctor who values order in every aspect of her life. But cleaning proves to be a thoroughly depressing occupation for Matilde, who would much rather spend her time concocting jokes in the tradition of her beloved parents.
As luck would have it, Lane’s modest sister Virginia thrives on cleaning and secretly begins to take over the maid’s duties, allowing Matilde to create the world’s funniest joke. When Lane’s husband, a surgeon, unexpectedly falls in love with Ana, one of his cancer-stricken patients, everything that was clean and tidy for Lane – her house, her emotions, her relationships – is thrown into disarray, and Matilde must come to her rescue.
Forced to pick up the pieces and closely evaluate their lives, Matilde, Lane, Virginia and Ana come to find an uncommon bond filled with comedy and tragedy as they begin to discover what living and dying are all about, and how shared laughter can heal almost everything.
“Sarah Ruhl is a poet as well as a playwright and this I feel is why The Clean House is so succinct and poetic,” says director Rosane McNamara. “As with poetry, Ruhl is able to express so much in just a few words. It is therefore a delight for a director and actors to work with her text.”
“Each of the characters in the play has their own personal quest : to find a soulmate, a task, a perfect joke, a perfect death, respect. I’m hoping that audiences will recognise what a powerful author Sarah Ruhl is, and that they’ll appreciate her gentle exploration of the universal need to be loved, to be appreciated – and to laugh. The Clean House reminds us that seeing the funny side of life (and death) helps to keep us sane.”
Sarah Ruhl is an American award-winning playwright who gained widespread recognition for her play The Clean House – winning the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize as the best English Language play written by a woman. An alum of 13P and of New Dramatists, she won a MacArthur Fellowship in 2006.
Ruhl was the recipient of the PEN Center Award for a mid-career playwright, the Whiting Writers award, the Feminist Press’ Forty under Forty award, a Lilly Award, and is the latest recipient of the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award. She is currently on the faculty at Yale School of Drama.
Her plays include Stage Kiss; In the Next Room, or the vibrator play; Passion Play; Dead Man’s Cell Phone; Melancholy Play (a musical with Todd Almond); Eurydice; Orlando; Demeter in the City; Late: a cowboy song; Three Sisters; Dear Elizabeth; The Oldest Boy; and most recently For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday.
Director: Rosane McNamara Featuring: James Bean, Colleen Cook, Mary-Anne Halpin, Alice Livingstone, Keila Terencio Set & Lighting Designer: David Marshall-Martin Costume Designer: Nicola Block Sound Designer: Tegan Nicholls Audio / Visual Design: Louise Reilly Assistant Director: Tabitha Woo Dialect Coach: Emma Louise Production Manager: Louise Fischer Stage Managers/Props: Jo Jewitt & Ricci Costa
The Clean House
New Theatre, 542 King Street, Newtown
Season: 8 June – 8 July 2017 (previews: 6 & 7 June)
Information and Bookings: www.newtheatre.org.au
Image: courtesy of New Theatre