Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Clean House: 01/06/2007

Sarah Ruhl's The Clean House is a great play. It should be quickly entered into the cannon or great American dramatic literature. It's funny and smart and moving. It filled with brilliant visuals and juicy bits of wisdom. The Clean House concerns Matilde, a maid from Brazil who doesn't like to clean. She is on a quest to find “the perfect joke” and cleaning makes her depressed. Her employer, Lane, a successful doctor is at her wits end – so in steps Virginia, Lane's sister to offer to clean Lane's house on Matilde's behalf. It's a terrific premise, dealing with class, privilege, work, finding one's place in life, and about a dozen other ideas. So it's sad to report that the expensive production currently at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center only rises to the occasion of this wonderful script in Act Two, when the top-notch cast really finds its stride. Jill Clayburgh's portrayal of Virginia seemed a little too much of cartoon but Blair Brown's Lane is much more sturdy and really blooms in Act Two. As Matilde, Vanessa Aspillaga is very good, finding the right note pretty much throughout. The Clean House is worth a visit, but I don't think this the perfect production that this play deserves.

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