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The Clean House and Other Plays
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The Clean House and Other Plays

4.2  ·  Rating details ·  2,295 Ratings  ·  104 Reviews
This volume is the first publication of Sarah Ruhl, “a playwright with a unique comic voice, perspective, and sense of theater” (Variety), who is fast leaving her mark on the American stage. In the award-winning Clean House—a play of uncommon romance and uncommon comedy—a maid who hates cleaning dreams about creating the perfect joke, while a doctor who treats cancer leave ...more
Paperback, 436 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Theatre Communications Group
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Jun 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
خیلی خوب بود و کامل نکته سنج با دردهای عادی آدمی برخورد کرده بود نگاه تلخش به مقوله جوک و خنده رو خیلی دوست داشتم.
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up from the library to read Eurydice and loved it so much I read the rest. I would LOVE to see Eurydice and Clean House performed.
Chuck O'Connor
Oct 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
Sarah Ruhl is beloved by many of my theater artist friends and one can't deny her decorated credentials (e.g. Genius Grant, multiple Pulitzer Finalist, most produced playwright in America 2012) but, this collection infuriated me. I found every play to be "twee". The Urban Dictionary defines "Twee" as, "The opposite of simple, authentic and true: desperately exquisite, contrived to the point of ridiculousness, trying to so hard to be ornately exceptional that you (inadvertently) end up looking li ...more
Apr 10, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoy Sarah Ruhl's lightness, contemplation and whimsy. Melancholy Play was one of the first scripts I ever interacted with years ago, and it was delightful to revisit it now, along with 3 others by Ruhl.
Nov 12, 2008 added it
I'm not going to give this book any stars because I actually just read The Clean House and saw Eurydice. The other two plays, Late, a cowboy song and Melancholy Play, I did not read. Goodreads needs to start including single volume plays on here.

Anyway, I thought The Clean House was ok. I always have to get accustomed to the "magic" in her plays. What seems semi-normal or realistic, usually won't be by the end of the play, and I just have to remember that. I think I would be annoyed that I coul
Jun 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is gorgeous. I have only seen one of the plays (which was incredibly well done) and would like to see the rest, but it's just as good of an experience to read all of the plays side by side. Ruhl's whimsical tone and repeated themes of the cyclical nature of families and the innocence and purity of love make for a somehow simultaneously draining and uplifting reading experience.

The Melancholy Play seemed a little bit out of place in this collection. I still really enjoyed it, but thoug
Dylan Zucati
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Why has it taken me so long to read such a beautiful collection of plays? I’ve loved Sarah Ruhl’s writing from the moment I first heard someone do a Eurydice monologue for an acting workshop. She wrote in her book of essays that she’s a poet who retired into playwriting and I think that’s a perfect way to describe it. I hope to see one of these plays visualized soon, the unworldly nature of her stage directions makes for an impressive production in my head. If you like magical realism and lower ...more
Adrian Collins
Sep 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Rather than being hit or miss for me, I generally have mixed emotions when reading any Sarah Ruhl play. She uses absurdism in a poetic way, which is hard to wrap my head around. My favorite play from this collection is Eurydice, which has a beautiful focus on language and relationships. Too often I find Sarah Ruhl's plays to be sort of unreachable. Her characters are difficult to relate to, as most of their actions seem irrational or out of the blue. I'd like to see these plays performed to get ...more
Jilly Hanson
May 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Melancholy Play and Eurydice are definitely the two plays that I liked best. Eurydice is like, the saddest thing ever and I want to do it so bad. Ugh. So heartbreaking.
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sep 29, 2017 rated it liked it
well i only actually read the 1st 2 plays. and i enjoyed them.
Diego L. Pedroza
Nov 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: guiones
Sep 20, 2018 rated it liked it
It’s interesting, creative, and well-written. A bit too edgy for my taste.
Ian Johnson
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, plays
I was recommended this collection by a playwriting teacher. It is beautiful. I am honored to have been able to read it. Ruhl deals with love, life, and death in ways no other writer can. Her use of absurdism and detailed characterization marry in a way to make the reader/audience find the strange parts of themselves that tick deep within. Thank you to Sarah Ruhl, Eurydice and Red for inspiring me to write, read and be my true self.

Below is a review of each play included in the collection...

The C
Mar 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama
This is a collection of four Sarah Ruhl plays: The Clean House, Late: A Cowboy Song, Melancholy Play, and Eurydice. A playwrighting teacher suggested I read some of her work because he saw some elements of what she tries to do in my own writing, specifically the way she employs elements of the absurd and surreal as though there were perfectly commonplace.

This is definitely difficult work to read; I'm sure it's quite a different experience sitting in the audience watching these plays. Ruhl write
Sep 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
My infatuation with Sarah Ruhl's work is unabating. She does such a wonderful job marrying some of the devices of absurdism--the existential set-up of a maid refusing to clean, the transformation of a major character into an almond, the use of song and rhyme and non-sequitur, the incorporation of a musician beyond the fourth wall into the action of the stage--to her clarity of style, playfulness of presentation, and psychological investment in her characters. She has written elsewhere about the ...more
Dec 01, 2008 rated it liked it
The Clean House - This play revolves largely around jokes, in fact, one of the author's notes specifically says that each actor should be able to tell a really good joke. And, in fact, I have seen audition postings (for other plays) that request you have tell a joke. I have a joke (the only joke I know) about a bear that I think is hilarious, but most other people don't seem to think so. Guess that's a skill I need to keep developing. Anyway, the play is whimsical and has everything to do with r ...more
Jul 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama
I have spent all summer with this book on my nightstand and so it is time to retire it, even though I still have not read the Melancholy Play, but I will get to that one of these days.

Things I really like about Sarah Ruhl:
- Her stage directions. They're brief, to the point, often hilarious. I think possibly my favorite part of Late: A Cowboy Song is when she writes that the premiere performance used a fake horse, but a real one would be nice.
- Her parameters. If a guy says he is going to go o
Sep 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: daydreamers, make believers
Shelves: school, play
The Clean House was assigned for my 21st Century American Drama class. I liked it enough to read the rest of the plays in this collection.

I am at once irritated by and attracted to Ruhl's style of playwriting. She is precious, picky, and unreasonable (especially in her stage directions - an actual horse in Late: A Cowboy Song?! A house both white and human in The Clean House?). And to be sure, her charm wore off by the end of this collection; I found Eurydice positively unpalatable - too abstra
Sep 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: drama
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
let me preamble by saying i don't usually read plays so this review may not be completely well rounded. that said i did really enjoy this collection. i found a recommendation for 'the clean house' in an article about recent playwrights & decided to try it. this collection has four plays total & i enjoyed them all. they all have an odd sense of humor which i appreciated & also some thought provoking moments without being completely out there. i would not say they are for everyone thou ...more
Mar 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
I read two of the plays in this collection, Eurydice and The Clean House, both of which I liked a lot. My rating is based on those two pieces, but if I had rated the whole book it would probably be lower. There's a preciousness about some of Ruhl's work that I found bearable and even charming in a dose of two in a row, but more would have been too much, I think. She's witty and sharp, no doubt, but is it patronizing to say that I also found that her voice sounded young? Maybe it's because I know ...more
Feb 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
This volume contains 4 plays. The first, "The Clean House," is lyrical, touching and at times surreal. Loved reading it, would love to see it staged.

"Late: a Cowboy Song" was also quite poetic. It felt like a lonesome cowboy tune played on a velvety night by a campfire. Sweet and sad. First rate.

"Melancholy Play" felt a little more modern. Intertwined love affairs are investigated. Still done in a dreamy fashion. Also first rate.

"Eurydice" was the only one of the four plays I didn't like too muc
Joshua Morgan
Jul 25, 2008 rated it liked it
This compilation contains four vastly different plays; Eurydice, Late: a Cowboy Song, Melancholy Play and The Clean House.

All of them are interesting, felt and nuanced but there are few moments of life on the page. Now, plays are meant to be seen and not read so reading a play like Eurydice is difficult without having some sort of reference point as to what a raining elevator would look like.

With that said - Late: a Cowboy Song, is an incredibly moving simple story of a house falling apart becau
Douglas Cosby
Nov 15, 2016 rated it liked it
The title track was definitely the best play of the four and would have gotten at least 4 stars standalone. The Clean House was about a two-doctor broken marriage, where the husband falls in love with his mastectomy patient, introduces her to the wife, and interesting relationships ensue. Late: A Cowboy Song just didn't have much to it -- about Mary leaving Crick for Red the Cowboy (who is a girl). Maybe Eurydice was good, but I sure didn't get it -- about Eurydice following her father to Hades ...more
Feb 13, 2009 rated it liked it
I like these plays. ruhl has more fun with imagination, and a much deeper one, than most writers. witness: I would like to die and be reborn as a mushroom. I would like to stay warm and slightly damp. I will release spores now and again when it suits my mood.
cheerful people are the worse sort of people – they make noise when they smile. Their teeth have little bells b/t the cracks. when they smile, their teeth ring.
maybe the rest of my life will be like television – no smell.
animals don’t pract
Jun 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary, plays
Having never seen any of Sarah Ruhl's plays, I can't attest to how any of the work in The Clean House and Other Plays would look on stage, but I read this in an English class in college and found it spell-binding. I only needed to read "The Clean House," but I ended up finishing the entire volume! Out of the four works, I found "The Clean House" to be the most well-developed, with the most complicated and in-depth characterization. That doesn't mean that the other plays don't hold a reader's int ...more
Feb 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: drama, new-classics
A great collection of plays by one of current favorite playwrights. Sarah Ruhl is adept at not only surprising the reader at every turn, with outlandish, fanciful ideas becoming reality for those on her stages--but she has a way of revealing the depth of human feeling always ready to burst out of her characters.

Each play in this collection highlights her talent for whimsy and the practicalities that entail staying true to one's gut and connection with others. I would highly recommend it for Eury
Megan Swartzfager
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
I bought this book after seeing Eurydice performed, and I was not disappointed. It is quite obvious that Ruhl was a poet before she was a playwright. She captures vague emotions with beautifully specific metaphors in a way that makes one wonder why melancholy is not more frequently described as being like the particular dryness in one's mouth after eating an almond and before wanting to kiss someone. Eurydice is by far my favorite in this collection, but each of these plays is uniquely beautiful ...more
Cynthia Paschen
Aug 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a terrific play. Two of the five characters are double cast, playing two deceased characters in kind of a dream sequence.

My daughter's school is performing "The Clean House" next month. My daughter will play Virginia. Here is one of my favorite parts of hers:
"I have my house cleaned by approximately 3:12 every afternoon. I have folded the corner of every sheet. The house is quiet. The gold draperies are singing a little lullaby to the ottoman. The silverware is gently sleeping in its box
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Sarah Ruhl (born 1974) is an American playwright. She is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for a distinguished American playwright in mid-career.

Originally, she intended to be a poet. However, after she studied under Paula Vogel at Brown University (A.B., 1997; M.F.A., 2001), she was persuaded to switch to playwriting. Her fir
“There are jokes about breast surgeons.
You know-- something like-- I've seen more breasts in this city than--
I don't know the punch line.
There must be a punch line.

I'm not a man who falls in love easily. I've been faithful to my
wife. We fell in love when we were twenty-two. We had plans. There
was justice in the world. There was justice in love. If a person was
good enough, an equally good person would fall in love with that
person. And then I met-- Ana. Justice had nothing to do with it.

There once was a very great American surgeon named Halsted. He was
married to a nurse. He loved her-- immeasurably. One day Halsted
noticed that his wife's hands were chapped and red when she came back
from surgery. And so he invented rubber gloves. For her. It is
one of the great love stories in medicine. The difference between
inspired medicine and uninspired medicine is love.

When I met Ana, I knew:
I loved her to the point of invention.”
“I think maybe heaven is a sea of untranslatable jokes. Only everyone is laughing.” 0 likes
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