For being a playhouse, the crew at Cyrano’s does a lot of work. This time they are doing some serious cleaning. “The Clean House” will be opening at Cyrano’s on Sept. 19 and stay there until October 12.
The play is written by Sarah Ruhl and received the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize in 2004. According to blackburnprize.org, the prize is awarded once a year to “a woman who deserves recognition for having written a work of outstanding quality for English-speaking theatre.” The show was not adapted for the performance at Cyrano’s. Krista Schwarting got the opportunity to direct.
“It was initially offered to someone else, but after they offered it to me, I read the play and loved it,” Schwarting said. “It’s full of these messy operatic emotions, and I was attracted to it because I’ve never directed a play like this before. I didn’t quite know how it was going to fit together–it was a challenge.”
It’s a challenge trying to describe the play. “The Clean House” has five main characters: Charles, played by Paul Schweigert, is the love-stricken doctor married to Lane, his doctor wife played by Julia Crossman. There is also Virginia, Lane’s obsessive-compulsive sister, played by Linda Benson, and Charles’ patient/lover Ana, played by Ursula Gould. Matilde, the comedic Brazilian maid played by Suehyla El-Attar, has been in this play before and got a nomination for her role.
“I think that the strength to Sarah Ruhl’s writing is that it has some obvious moments that stay the same and then others that are left up to the director’s discretion,” El-Attar said. “My last production was interpreted in a much different fashion.”
No matter how it’s interpreted, the performance has many adult themes that bring plenty of laughs, but labeling it a comedy isn’t fitting. The play has drama, love, and even tragedy.
“Cyrano’s does things that are more challenging. This is a show that really asks something of its audience,” Schwarting said. “I think it’s really going to connect with audiences in this perfect little space.”
Cyrano’s may have limited seating, but they give student discounts so it’s an ideal venue for UAA students. Even though the play opens on Friday, the 19, they have a pay as you can night on the 18. The show opens at 7 nightly; you can visit their website for show times and more information at www.cyranos.org.