Sunday, October 28, 2007

"The Clean House" shines

My freelance review:
The Rep doesn't get much better than this!

The Clean House, the first show of the season for the St. Louis Repertory Theatre's Studio Theatre series, is a shining gem of a production. The play delivers plenty of laughs, drama, romance and poignant human emotion.

The setting is modern-era Connecticut and the home of two busy, high-powered physicians, Lane and Charles, and their zany, young Brazilian housekeeper Matilde, a woman with a problem -- she hates to clean!

Matilde, played by Roni Geva in a rich performance that couldn't be any better, prefers trying to dream up the funniest joke in the world! Her parents, she confides, were the two funniest people in Brazil, and when they died it was left to her to be the funniest.

Enter Lane's sister Virginia who loves to clean and, in a secret deal with Matilde, arranges to take care of the cleaning behind Lane's back -- an arrangement that is just too perfect to last.

This play is chock full of laughs as the story plays out, and the laughs only get stronger in the second act when Charles brings home a patient, the free-spirited Ana (played with gusto and charm by June Gable) -- much to the dismay of his wife.

The other cast members are first-rate, too. This includes Andrea Cirie and Carol Schultz as sisters Lane and Virginia and John Rensenhouse as Charles.

The Clean House is playright Sarah Ruhl's sixth play. It won the 2004 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, awarded annually to the best English-language play written by a woman, and was also a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Director Susan Gregg, the Rep's Associate Artistic Director, delivers a great production of The Clean House. It's fairly obvious that Gregg and her cast and crew had a lot of fun putting the show together.

The Clean House plays through Nov. 11 at the Emerson Studio Theatre at the St. Louis Repertory Theatre in Webster Groves.

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