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The Clean House and Other Plays by Sarah…

The Clean House and Other Plays

by Sarah Ruhl

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First, I have seen "Passion Play" and "In the Next Room, or, the vibrator play" of Sarah Ruhl's oeuvre. I have read only the latter, and "Eurydice".

Second, "In the Next Room" is one of the best plays of the past ten years. I have very little doubt that Sarah Ruhl is one of the most exciting American playwrights of the early twenty-first century.

So when I say this collection does not live up to her talent, believe me.

"Eurydice" is interesting, but I suspect it plays infinitely better than it reads. "Late: a Cowboy Song" is interesting, but I suspect the parts that interest me -- namely, the gender issues around Blue's intersexuality and Red's gender performance are not the parts which get emphasized in production (one day I will stop trying to read stories that people didn't write). "Melancholy Play" I really shouldn't say anything about, because Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy is a work I find deeply troubling and fascinating in roughly equal measure and I suspect that my feeeeeeelings about it are bleeding over, because I found "Melancholy Play" to be really distressing but I can't say exactly why. "The Clean House" did not leave me with much of an impression.

Ehhhhhhh. ( )
  cricketbats | Mar 30, 2013 |
This volume is the first publication of Sarah Ruhl, “a playwright with a unique comic voice, perspective and sense of theater,” (Variety) who is fast leaving her mark on the American stage. In the award-winning Clean House—a play of uncommon romance and uncommon comedy—a maid who hates cleaning dreams about creating the perfect joke, while a doctor who treats cancer leaves his heart inside one of his patients. This volume also includes Eurydice, Ruhl’s reinvention of the tragic Greek tale of love and loss; Late, a cowboy song and Melancholy Play
  RKC-Drama | Apr 21, 2011 |
Sarah Ruhl is one of the best new playwrights working to day. Her plays are poetic, lyrical, and gently absurd. My favorites were Melancholy Play and Eurydice. ( )
  katiemullen | Dec 15, 2009 |
Originally posted on my blog

Let me tell you something about the Midwest. The Midwest is hardcore. You grow up there, like I did, you end up either hardcore normal or hardcore weird.

So when I read the recent New Yorker piece about Sarah Ruhl, who falls into the latter category, I actually put down the magazine halfway through the piece to run to the bookstore to buy a collection of her plays -- the last copy on the shelf. I was drawn to the gentle absurdism described in the article -- wackiness to amuse, instruct, make a point. Absurdism you can relate to.

The collection did not disappoint. In The Clean House, others clean house while the maid tries to think of the perfect joke. In Late: A Cowboy song, a man, a woman and a manly woman move at a horse's pace to a few important realizations. In Melancholy Play, which I think is my favorite so far, melancholy is sexy and tears are meant to be saved. I haven't read Eurydice yet -- I may wait until after seeing it produced by ACT Theatre in Seattle later this year.

Ruhl's first intent was to be a poet, and this comes through in her plays as well. There is a musicality about the dialogue, a lilt. The stage directions are like little presents stashed throughout the play, sweet, suggestive: "It would be nice if the actress playing Red could play the guitar." "Virginia has a deep impulse to order the universe." "An intermission, or not. Preferably not."

In the New Yorker piece, Ruhl talks about the importance of lightness, yeah. Her plays are often described as comedies, and there is a comedic element to each one, but they are too earnest to be dismissed as whimsical jokes. When someone turns into an almond, there is a reason. ( )
1 vote AngieK | Apr 26, 2009 |
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