Matilde, a Brazilian live-in maid with an inconvenient disdain for housecleaning, would have been right at home in World War II efforts to weaponize humour. That is, if she occupied a vintage Monty Python sketch instead of Sarah Ruhl’s new play “The Clean House.” Although the humour of using humour for military purposes wouldn’t gel with her, the kinship between the two scenarios isn’t so much of a stretch. Early in the play, she tells how her own ill mother died laughing at one of her father’s jokes. T, which is as good a way to go as a mid-coital shedding of mortal coils. Her own search for the perfect joke is laced with this particular memory, the death of her mother followed by her father a short time later, and manifested in the fear that discovering the perfect joke will kill her. Naturally, she spends her time trying to discover that holy grail of guffaws, although it would be wrong to make a case for suicidal tendencies. Rather, Matilde lives as if comedy is the highest form of human aspiration, a sublime art.
Read the rest of...ICT’s ‘The Clean House’ Is a Funny Place to Live : THE FRONT PAGE ONLINE