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The Clean House at Stirling - Review

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by Haydn Radford (subscribe)
Haydn Radford -A freelance writer born in Adelaide, who loves living here. I write about movies, theatre, entertainment, literary and art events. I am happy to promote & review your events.
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Love isn't clean - it's dirty like a good joke
The Clean House at Stirling - Review

Sarah Ruhl's great piece of play writing was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. This strong production at the Stirling Community Theatre deserves to receive lots of box office support.

Directed by Kevin Burnett, The Clean House is a quirky, funny, wise and well-crafted production with rock-solid acting from Andrea Freitas (Mathilde), Joephine Pugh (Lane), Jenny Penny (Virginia), Julie Quick (Ana), Charles (Peter Davies) and Anna Gabriela (Musician).

The Clean House at Stirling - Review
Julie Quick as Ana, Jo Pugh as Lane, Jenny Penny as Virginia and introducing Andrea Freitas as Matilde, and featuring Peter Davies as Charles.

What is unique about this play is it is written by a woman and it has four women leads which is highly unusual in theatre to see so many strong leading women roles with only one strong male role. In no way does this detract from the production as the entire cast is remarkable.

From the outset you have a fair indication you are in for some quirky theatre as a young immigrant Brazilian woman, Mathilde tells a joke in Portuguese, with subtitles on the backdrop. Her domestic position in the well-appointed home of Lane and Charles, a married couple, who are two doctors, is to clean their house. However, Mathilde, an aspiring comedian spends most of her time dreaming up the perfect joke, rather than house cleaning, which frustrates Lane who has a strong need for cleanliness and order.

Just to add more quirkiness to the story is Virginia, Ana's eccentric sister who just loves cleaning house with a passion. Virginia forms a friendship with Mathilde and secretly they come to an arrangement that Virginia does the cleaning tasks so Mathilde can concentrate on creating her jokes.

Another dis-order in Lane's Life is her marriage, since Charles, has fallen deeply in love with one of his cancer patients, Ana, who is seriously ill. Charles declares Ana is his "soul mate" and struggles with her refusing medical treatment. This may seem outrageous to some audience members, and not the subject for a comedy, but the emotional richness of the writing, the rich feeling as it unfolds, its raunchy humour, the strong characters and fine performances present an eccentric, funny play with revealing surprising insights.

Anna Gabriela plays guitar on stage and has obviously considered what is going on in the play at particular moments, what sort of emotions, feelings, what kind of spirit she wanted to bring to the play. The music was completely Anna's making. Her musical interpretation into the play is beautiful.

Technical support (Debbie and John Tester) at Stirling do a marvellous job with the data projection and other technical tasks producing sub-titles for the jokes spoken in Portuguese by Matilde, as well as projecting video back drops at different moments of a hospital operating theatre, an inviting beach scene and a Canadian forest with winter snowfall. These projected pictures produced a split scene effect creating a more gripping presentation and gave more depth to the production, but was carefully conducted in a way that it was not over-done to the degree it became a gimmick and turned the play into a movie.

Great support from Heather Mansfield (Stage Manager) ensured the production flowed easily.

I attended the Sunday matinee performance where patrons are invited to attend a Q & A session with the director, cast and production people after the show, and be taken on a tour of the theatre's back stage and production areas. This is certainly an ideal means to learn more about theatre production and what goes into creating such a wonderful play. Certainly recommend attending this invitation to theatre buffs, drama students and budding writers.

22 adult, $18 conc., $16 child U18 (plus special discounts for groups of 10 and family bookings)
Book at Stirling Players' or phone Stirling Players' Ticketing (08) 7481 6152

The Clean House at Stirling - Review
Stirling Commnity Theatre. Photo: H. Radford
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Why? Enjoy a quirky, romantic play which is funny, wise and well-crafted production with rock-solid acting performances.
When: Fri & Sat 22, 23, 29 & 30 September, Sun 24 September & 1 October 4pm, and 6 & 7 October 8pm
Where: Stirling Community Theatre, Avenue Road, Stirling
Cost: Adult $22, Conc. $18, Groups of 10 (in one transaction) $16 Wheelchair access seats available for booking online. See seating plan. No refunds or exchanges. Ticket enquiries : (08) 7481 6152
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