Critics can’t get enough of our current production of Sarah Ruhl’s Pulitzer Prize winning The Clean House. Barry Willis has awarded the show five stars and called it a “near perfect theatrical experience.”
“On rare occasions, theater critics face the happy task of reviewing a production about which nothing negative can be said. Sarah Ruhl’s The Clean House, now at Ross Valley Players, is such a production — one whose script, casting, set, direction and pacing combine in a near-perfect theatrical experience.
A love triangle with heartache to follow is among the oldest stories on earth, of course, but Ruhl takes this basic setup into such unexpected and profound territory that it becomes an often comic riff on issues of attachment, expectation, friendship, love, devotion and death — all of it so deftly interwoven that poignancy lingers long after the final scene.
The show moves along briskly without feeling rushed, and with appropriate changes in tempo that amplify the playwright’s emotional roller-coaster. David Shirk’s elegant set enables multiple scenes — scenes-within-scenes and cutaway bits — without the need to change anything. A projection screen cleverly displays translations or descriptions, like the text inserted between shots in old silent movies. Sound designer James Ard has chosen a couple of gorgeous operatic arias for key scenes, yielding an emotional resonance not possible from actors alone, no matter how talented.
But make no mistake — this is one talented troupe. Director JoAnne Winter extracts a glorious synergy from an incredibly well-balanced cast. A production that’s a welcome departure from RVP’s tried-and-true repertoire, “The Clean House” goes in many unexpected directions, but all of them make a sort of believable, empathetic and ultimately satisfying sense. A standout among a handful of “best of” Bay Area shows so far this year, RVP’s production is quirky, beautiful, brilliant — and not to be missed.”
-Barry Willis, Marin Independent Journal (read the full review HERE)
“I’m sure I wasn’t meant to immediately get some ruminations within the play. Or ever. Some enlightenment might have been expected to arrive hours — or days later. After all, Ruhl originally wanted to be a poet, and much poetry is initially unfathomable or mysterious, right? Like an elongated Portuguese joke never translated.
I surely wasn’t sure what I thought of the whole eccentric, moving enchilada while watching it, nor instantly after exiting. Yet the next morning I recognized it had a deliciously subtle, flavorful aftertaste. One that absolutely left me looking forward to the Bay Area’s next show by Ruhl.”
–Woody Weingarten, Marinscope (read the full review HERE)
The Clean House runs now through June 14, 2015. Get your tickets online HERE or by visiting our website at rossvalleyplayers.com/tickets. Special talk back with director JoAnne Winter on Sunday, May 24 and 31 following the matinee performance.
Photo by Gregg Le Blanc / Cumulus Light Photography.