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The Clean House 

Wednesday, Oct 14 2009
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Hot young playwright Sarah Ruhl is on a roll. Still only in her mid-30s, she has won a MacArthur Genius Award; her recent production of In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play), produced at Berkeley Rep, is about to open on Broadway; and this play, The Clean House, was a 2005 Pulitzer finalist. She deserves all the accolades — her writing feels fresh, entertaining, and important. Clean House covers a lot of ground, delving into the complex relationships among sisters, lovers, and even the hired help. Carolyn Power is dynamite as Ana, the Argentine whirlwind who enters the somewhat unhappy and stuck lives of the other characters. There's a touch of South American magical realism and Jewish mysticism at work here as they tap into their deeper longings. It takes a delicate balance and commitment to make this script work, and certain amateurish acting choices and production values threaten to undermine it at times. But Ruhl's writing accesses some beautiful and profound places in the heart, and that shines through in this production.

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Nathaniel Eaton

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