THE CLEAN HOUSELanea doctor, a woman in her early fifties. Clean house play has a refined sense of deadpan. He is child like underneath his white coat. She is impossibly charismatic. This number may be changed from production to ckean if need be.
THE CLEAN HOUSE | Plays | Sarah Ruhl
Lane , a doctor, a woman in her early fifties. She has a refined sense of deadpan. He is child like underneath his white coat. She is impossibly charismatic.
This number may be changed from production to production if need be. Everyone in this play should be able to tell a really good joke. A white living room. White couch, white vase, white lamp, white rug. Or, a house that is not far from the city and not far from the sea. Matilde tells a long joke in Portuguese to the audience. We can tell she is telling a joke even though we might not understand the language. She finishes the joke. My cleaning lady—from Brazil—decided that she was depressed one day and stopped cleaning my house.
If you do not clean: The dust always makes progress. Then I remove the dust. If it were not for dust I think I would die.
If there were no dust to clean then there would be so much leisure time and so much thinking time and I would have to do something besides thinking and that thing might be to slit my wrists.
My sister is a wonderful person. At an important hospital. They are places for human waste. Places to put dead bodies. My sister has given up the privilege of cleaning her own house.
Something deeply personal—she has given up. She does not know how long it takes the dust to accumulate under her bed. She does not know if her husband is sleeping with a prostitute because she does not smell his dirty underwear.
All of these things, she fails to know. I know when there is dust on the mirror. But if I were to die at any moment during the day, no one would have to clean my kitchen. 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 sixty-three 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: We have never been apart since the day we met, because I always wanted to know the next joke.
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. A joke he took one year to make up, for the anniversary of their marriage. When my mother died laughing, my father shot himself.
And so I came here, to clean this house. This is difficult for me. I was the third funniest person in my family. Then my parents died, making me the first funniest. There was no one left to laugh at my jokes, so I left. I understand that you have a life, an emotional life—and that you are also my cleaning lady. If I met you at—say—a party—and you said, I am from a small village in Brazil, and my parents were comedians, I would say: You sound like a very interesting woman.
And I have met you in the context of my house, where I have hired you to clean. I just want my house—cleaned. I want you to do all the things I want you to do without my having to tell you. They are not the best dancers in the world. They laugh until laughing makes them kiss.
They kiss until kissing makes them laugh. The blue background you see is a close-up of a tile from a production of Eurydice at Second Stage, directed by Les Waters and designed by Scott Bradley. Lane Lane, to the audience. It has been such a hard month. Virginia Virginia, to the audience. Ha ha ha ha ha ha just kidding. That just popped out! Matilde Matilde, to the audience. Lane and Matilde Lane enters.
Matilde is looking out the window. Would you please clean the bathroom when you get a chance? Matilde looks at Lane. The house is very dirty. Matilde—what did you do in your country before you came to the United States? I was a student. My parents were the funniest people in Brazil And then they died. That must be very difficult. But life is about context.
Lane is on the verge of tears. Do you tell the nurses at the hospital what to do? Then pretend I am your nurse. Nurse—would you polish the silver, please. A doctor does not say: Matilde gets out silver polish and begins polishing.
Lane watches her for a moment, then exits. Matilde Matilde stops cleaning. This is how I imagine my parents. A dashing couple appears.