The Clean House, written by Sarah Ruhl, begins as a comedy about a maid who hates to clean and turns into a tragic love story centering on a surgeon and his wife. It makes the audience laugh, cry, and wonder, as only the best plays do.
Beautifully directed by professor Leah Garland, this play blends elements of realistic theater in the first act and more absurd theater in the second to show the audience how strange reality can be. The first act starts off slowly in setting of the story of the Portuguese maid from Brazil, Matilde, played by sophomore Chiara Guardo. Matilde's parents - the funniest people in all of Brazil - died, so Matilde went to Connecticut to work in the home of two doctors, Lane and Charles, portrayed by juniors Emma Leigh and Dan Lilly. As Lane explains, "I'm sorry, I didn't go to med school to clean my own house."
The problem is, Matilde absolutely hates to clean. Lucky for her, Lane's sister, Virginia, is obsessed with cleaning and offers to complete the chore for Matilde. Virginia is a very funny character, performed brilliantly by sophomore Susanna Guarino. All three of these actresses embody their very different characters well, with mannerisms and personality that define each woman in turn.
While the first act was only in one location - Lane and Charles' home - the second act opens in an operating room, shifts back and forth between other locations, and even takes the audience to Alaska. Throughout the second act, Lane's clean house gets messier and messier, much as Lane herself becomes more disheveled.
The second act creates much more depth through the introduction of a new main character on the stage, Ana, who is played by sophomore Meaghan Elicks. Elicks shines beautifully through the character of Ana, the embodiment of the power of strength and hope. The story continues on from here to examine the extreme lengths people will go to and what they will do for the ones they love.
Sophomore Nicholas Ponterio and junior Alyssa Kostiner also make wonderful cameos as Matilde's laughing parents.
The play has many comic moments, yet many sad ones as well. It is a story of friendship, sisterhood, marriage, family and ultimately, love. It may even make you examine the way you look at your own life. The audience will walk away touched by these characters, feeling their love, their loss and their pain.
The Clean House is playing in the Black Box Theater, Tuesday, Sept. 25 through Saturday, Sept. 29 at 8 p.m. and on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 2 p.m. General Admission is $7.