REVIEW: 'The Clean House' a unique experience
By Tricia Stiller
Column size limitations will prevent me from saying all there is to say about The Celebration Company at the Station Theatre's current production, "The Clean House," which is most unfortunate.
This whimsical comedy showcases the poetic and imaginative voice of award-winning playwright Sarah Ruhl, that, once experienced, will leave you aching for your next encounter.
On the surface, "The Clean House" has all the necessary components for a successful sitcom. An uptight overachiever, her neurotic sister, and the wacky ethnic domestic doling out philosophical observations instead of actually cleaning.
Quickly, however, Katie Baldwin Prosise — in an impressive directorial debut — guides us to look beyond that surface by offering brilliantly defined characters which were immediately at times both delightfully engaging and profoundly troubled. Consistently, this blend of humanness is captivating.
Deb Richardson masterfully heads the cast as Lane, a brilliant surgeon who needs to come home to clean house, despite the fact that her life is a complete mess. Laura Anne Welle plays Matilde, her Brazilian maid, who finds that cleaning the house makes her sad, making it hard to come up with the perfect joke.
You see Matilde, dreams of one day becoming a comedian, as a way to pay homage to her late parents, the funniest people who ever lived. Lane "doesn't want an interesting person to clean her house, she just wants her house clean."
Charming newcomer Anne Newman adds dimension to her role as Virginia, Lane's obsessive sister who offers to clean for Matilde while her sister is at work. Virginia has a passion for cleaning and, it would seem, very little else to do. Newman brilliantly delivers her at-times morbid dialogue with a delightfully real humor that was most impressive.
Jodi L. Prosser-Muller plays Ana, a beautiful Argentine who falls in love with Lane's husband Charles while he is treating her for breast cancer, offering an ethereal woman that even Lane has a hard time hating, and David Barkley plays Charles with surprising if not disarming sympathy.
Scene designer Eric Burton provides appropriately antiseptic elegance for the gifted ensemble, and the clever addition of occasional subtitles and fantasy sequences make this production a wonderfully unique evening at the theatre.
If you go
What: The Celebration Company presents "The Clean House" by Sarah Ruhl, directed by Katie Baldwin Prosise, with Laura Anne Welle as Matilde, Deb Richardson as Lane, Anne Newman as Virginia, Jodi Matthis Prosser as Ana and David Barkley as Charles
When: 8 p.m. today through Sunday; Feb. 26-March 2; March 5-8
Where: Station Theatre, 223 N. Broadway Ave., U
Tickets: $15 on Fridays and Saturdays; $10 on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays
Information: 384-4000; stationtheatre.com
Estimated running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes, with intermission
Tricia Stiller serves as director for the McLean County Diversity Project's Theatre Program, the Miller Park Summer Theatre Program and the Penguin Project McLean County. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.