The Clean House


The Clean House

Full-Length Play, Comedy  /  4w, 1m

Winner! 2003-2004 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize
Finalist! 2005 Pulitzer Prize in Drama

Image: 2004 Yale Repertory Theatre Production (Joan Marcus)

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    4w, 1m
  • Audience
    Target Audience
  • Winner! 2003-2004 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize
    Finalist! 2005 Pulitzer Prize in Drama


After its acclaimed run at Yale Repertory Theatre, this extraordinary play by an exciting voice in the American drama was was done to equal acclaim at several major theatres coast to coast before winding up Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center, where it had an extended run. The play takes place in what the author describes as "metaphysical Connecticut," mostly in the home of a married couple who are both doctors. They have hired a housekeeper named Matilde, an aspiring comedian from Brazil who's more interested in coming up with the perfect joke than in house-cleaning. Lane, the lady of the house, has an eccentric sister named Virginia who's just nuts about house-cleaning. She and Matilde become fast friends, and Virginia takes over the cleaning while Matilde works on her jokes. Trouble comes when Lane's husband Charles reveals that he has found his soul mate, or "bashert" in a cancer patient named Anna, on whom he has operated. The actors who play Charles and Anna also play Matilde's parents in a series of dream-like memories, as we learn the story about how they literally killed each other with laughter, giving new meaning to the phrase, "I almost died laughing." This theatrical and wildly funny play is a whimsical and poignant look at class, comedy and the true nature of love.
The Clean House premiered at Yale Repertory Theatre on September 17, 2004.
LANE, a doctor, a woman in her early fifties. She wears white.
MATILDE, Lane’s cleaning lady, a woman in her late twenties. She wears black.  She is Brazilian. She has a refined sense of deadpan.
VIRGINIA, Lane’s sister, a woman in her late fifties.
CHARLES, Lane’s husband, a man in his fifties. A compassionate surgeon. He is child like underneath his white coat. In the first Act, Charles plays Matilde’s father.
ANA, a woman who is older than Lane. She is Argentinean. She is impossibly charismatic. In the first Act she plays Matilde’s mother.

Ana is named as sixty-seven within the dialogue. This number may be changed from production to production if need be.

  • Time Period Present Day
  • Setting A metaphysical Connecticut.


"Fresh, funny ... a memorable play, imbued with a melancholy but somehow comforting philosophy: that the messes and disappointments of life are as much a part of its beauty as romantic love and chocolate ice cream, and a perfect punch line can be as sublime as the most wrenchingly lovely aria." - The New York Times

"A rich work about big themes from a young playwright with an original and audacious voice." - Variety

"Casts a spell that had me hooked." - The New York Daily News


  • Jon Jory on The Clean House youtube thumbnail

    Jon Jory on The Clean House

  • Scene from Remy Bumpo's The Clean House youtube thumbnail

    Scene from Remy Bumpo's The Clean House


  • The Clean House

    Image: 2004 Yale Repertory Theatre Production (Joan Marcus)

Licensing & Materials

  • Minimum Fee: £70 per performance plus VAT when applicable.


Available Formats:


Sarah Ruhl

Sarah Ruhl’s plays include In the Next Room, or the vibrator play, The Clean House, Passion Play, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Melancholy Play, For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday, The Oldest Boy, Stage Kiss, Dear Elizabeth, Eurydice, How to Transcend a Happy Marriage, Orlando, Late ...

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