Sarah Ruhl has told this story often, but it bears one more repetition: She came up with the idea for her comedy The Clean House after going to a party and overhearing a woman talk about her maid, who had stopped cleaning her house.

This forced the party guest to do her own housecleaning while having her maid treated for clinical depression. From that anecdote, Ruhl spun this play about two sisters and their Brazilian maid, who obsesses over jokes and cracks some filthy ones in the play, though they’re all in Portuguese. The stage work debuted in 2004 and won all sorts of accolades for its now 33-year-old author, including a MacArthur Genius Grant and a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize.

In film, television, literature, and theater, there haven’t been many recent stories that deal effectively with the complicated relationships between domestic workers and their privileged employers. This play is more successful than most, though in the end the characters inhabit their stations in life a bit too tidily (har har). Nevertheless, Stage West’s regional premiere of this comedy will be the first chance for local audiences to hear one of theater’s most intriguing new voices. Oh, and we can’t wait for Ruhl’s next project, which will be about the invention of the vibrator. Speaking of household requirements …


The Clean House runs Jan 24-Feb 24 at 821 W Vickery Blvd, FW. Tickets are $18-28. Call