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[By Sarah Ruhl]

Dunedin, New Zealand


Sarah Ruhl is a poet. No word or comma is misplaced. If you don't pay close attention to her precise prose, you'll miss something... which would be a shame, because every line can be a sharp instrument that cuts open untranslatable bits of humanity.

The play centers on a driven, middle-aged doctor named Lane, her lonely sister with a cleaning fetish, her husband who suddenly finds his soul-mate (a terminal patient of his), and her Brazilian maid, Matilde, a comedian who's depressed by cleaning. It could be an episode of a sit-com, but funny though it is, it's an existential work of magic-realism: delightful, unexpected, and utterly universal. My kind of play.

It might be because I married a doctor, but I absolutely love The Clean House, and I'm so fortunate to have been asked to bring it to New Zealand. My first foray in the Southern Hemisphere turned into a rousing success, in no small part to the support of Janice Marthen, and the Fortune Theatre's talented design and technical team who met my overwhelming demands with pluck, grace, and creativity. 


Scenery | Peter King

Costumes | Maryanne Wright Smyth

Lighting & Sound | Ulli Briese

Production Management | Alan Surgener

Set Construction | Penny Ungreek

Stage Management | Brendan van den Berg


Lane | Jude Gibson

Virginia | Hilary Norris

Charles | Phil Darkins

Ana | Jen Wolfe

Matilde | Anna Henare


[Reg Graham]



Magic, black humour, and real emotion are a potent mix... just the starting point in this clever, complex and affecting play.

Cleverly staged on a two-level set, designed by Peter King, and beautifully lit by Ulli Briese, The Clean House is funny, strange, endearing, and emotional by turns.

Brenda Harwood


It's got everything: fantastic acting from the word go… brilliant set-design (Peter King), music and lighting effects (Ulli Briese)... and direction (by American import, Jef Hall-Flavin) that shows an artful sense of body-humour and a privileged understanding of the way words work.

Helen Watson White


Pass round the cigars – the Fortune’s first successful delivery for 2007 is The Clean House.  … It’s smart, unpredictable, with a vibrant and quirky sense of humour.

We have US director Jef Hall-Flavin to thank for cutting the umbilical cord on this extraordinary New Zealand premiere.

Faith Oxenbridge 

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