REVIEW: “The Clean House” @ Williamstown [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Roseann Cane
“The story of my parents is this. It was said that my father was the funniest man in his village. He did not marry until he was 63 because he did not want to marry a woman who was not funny. He said he would wait until he met his match in wit.
“And then one day he met my mother. He used to say: your mother – and he would take a long pause – is funnier than I am. We have never been apart since the day we met, because I always wanted to know the next joke.
“My mother and father did not look into each other’s eyes. They laughed like hyenas. Even when they made love they laughed like hyenas. My mother was old for a mother. She refused many proposals. It would kill her, she said, to have to spend her days laughing at jokes that were not funny….
I wear black because I am in mourning. My mother died last year.”
Playwright Sarah Ruhl places The Clean House – currently on stage at Williamstown Theatre Festival – in “a metaphysical Connecticut. Or, a house that is not far from the city and not far from the sea.” Matilde (Guenia Lemos), the Brazilian housekeeper who works for physician Lane (Jayne Atkinson), finds herself unable to clean Lane’s home. Lane’s sister, Virginia (Jessica Hecht), enraptured with the sense of order she derives from cleaning, conspires with Matilde to take over cleaning Lane’s house when Lane is at work.