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The Clean House and Other Plays Paperback – January 1, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Sarah Ruhl received the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize in 2004 for her play "The Clean House," which has been produced at Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia, South Coast Repertory Theatre in Costa Mesa, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, DC. Her play Eurydice has been produced at Madison Repertory Theatre and Berkeley Repertory
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 436 pages
  • Publisher: Theatre Communications Group (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559362669
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559362665
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Fixed Stars Govern a Life on July 21, 2008
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Before Sarah Ruhl was a playwright, she was a poet. This is not a great surprise. I mean, just look at the format, imagery and dialogue found in The Clean House and Other Plays. This is drama, yeah, but it is drama that even contains poetic line-breaks!:

I feel I can deposit my pain
right there--like a coin, into a hole.
(from Melancholy Play, page 236)

In a March 2008 New Yorker interview, Ruhl calls herself "a fabulist." She is someone whose characters build rooms of string and travel in raining elevators (Euridyce). In another story, Ruhl echoes Monty Python's idea of jokes that can kill--only hers are used as mercy killings (The Clean House). Ruhl's lesbian cowboy seems natural riding imaginary horses in Pittsburgh (Late: A Cowboy Song); and watch where you step, because the depressed are turning into almonds at almost every turn! (Melancholy Play)

The experience of reading plays is a different one from that of reading other fiction or non-fiction works. Plays stretch the mind to consider subjects such as lighting, sound, and props. As a list given here, such material might be perceived as mundane and dull. In Sarah Ruhl's hands, they become magic. A lack of narrative and the addition of technical details doesn't mean that the nuances of emotion are left behind as something only the actors can manage. Tears, real tears, are no doubt regularly shed as Ruhl's readers feel the beautiful emotional-roller coaster moments on these pages: the strong father-daughter bond and ridiculousness of new romance in Euridyce; the love for parents and heartbreaking compassion of The Clean House; the true and false loves of Late: A Cowboy Song; and the sweet disorder of Melancholy Play.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mysterium on February 6, 2010
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Reading the work of Sarah Ruhl is, as reviewers before me have endeavored to point out, much like falling in love. It is, at times, highly surreal and gripping in a way that escapes logical reason. Her plays retain the air of the modern, but there is a very old, familiar quality lurking just at the peripheral edges of written consciousness.
Her plays are penned in the manner of transcribed dreams; filled with shifting imagery and and skewed perspectives that hit right at the heart, yet still contain an air of the delightfully absurd.

Take, for instance, her updated tale of love, "Eurydice".

"Eurydice" is a refreshed version of the ancient greek Orpheus myth, telling the story of a dreamy, absorbed musician the literary-minded wife as they span the breadth between the worlds. We are clearly reading the tale of two adults, yet they are characterized with an almost childishly overzealous approach to love, forgetfulness, life and death. Emotions range from startlingly neutral to forcefully passionate in an instant, keeping the audience swept up in her tempestuous story-telling from start to finish while hardly taking a breath.

Sarah Ruhl manages to be in the vanguard without being preachy. She manages modern surrealism without losing touch with her audience, keeping everything carefully bound together with a tender red-thread of a true artist. Throughout every literary journey, she takes you gleefully by the hand and drags you down her own personal rabbit hole (for truly, her work does have a certain delightfully obscure Lewis Carroll feel to it). This particular book is a marvelous anthology of her plays (although I DO wish it could have included Dead Man's Cell Phone).
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21 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Alton Rowe on February 7, 2006
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The plays in this volume are outstanding, surprising, human, and yet totally magical and at times silly without being trite. The author really has an original voice, and seems to be able to breathe life into the everyday sources of our greatest emotions and fears and hopes. I saw one of her plays at Yale - The Clean House - and was blown away. Apparently her play Eurydice is coming, and I saw reviews for her latest play, Passion Play a Trilogy, which sounded totally interesting. She is my favorite author of plays.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Reinaldo Garcia on June 14, 2008
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I read a profile of Sara Ruhl in THE NEW YORKER and was intrigued by the lack of psychologizing in her plays. So I bought a book of her plays. There's some good stuff in there, and some very cliched aspects as well. Ruhl seems to suffer from a bit of shame deriving from her white midwestern roots.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Johnston on February 13, 2008
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Sarah Ruhl is arguably the most talented, inventive, and poignant female playwright of our generation. Her beautifully crafted plays glow with humor and a deep understanding of the human mind; Sarah Ruhl is a thought-provoking genius.
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It's very nice to have a collection of Sarah Ruhl's plays at my disposal. From what I've read so far, her work is wonderful. I've done some makeup designs and monologues from Eurydice and love the style of it. Melancholy Play was also wonderful when I saw it live.--quirky, happily dramatic, and thought-provoking. Can't wait to read some more of her works and I hope to see some of these productions live soon as well.
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By DC on December 29, 2013
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Actually one of the best plays I read for my theater class this semester. I'd recommend it for pleasure and study.
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By Kuni on April 11, 2012
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I needed to learn a scene from The Clean House for my acting class and I needed it right away. I went to Amazon, ordered the script, and received it in plenty of time to become familiar enough with it to perform it in class with a scene partner. Thanks, Amazon.com for providing such good service.
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