Monday October 24th 2016

“The Clean House”


Bashert is a wonderful Yiddish word which has many intricate layers of meanings. In it’s basic form it means “meant to be” but that alone doesn’t really give you the full character of the word.

Meeting a soulmate, running into an old friend at the grocery store, rescuing an animal or not getting a certain job can be as I call “bashert moments”.

Bashert moments are never isolated.  Lets say you over sleep one morning. You jump out of bed and attempt to reduce your usual hour morning routine into ten minutes. Impressed by your ability to get ready so quickly you let out a sigh of relief when you realize you won’t be late. But, once in your car you realize you’ve left your wallet in the house. You rush back into your house and go on a mad dash race to try to find it. By the time you do find it about 15 minutes later you’re pissed because you are no longer on time. You get back into your car and begin to drive to your destination. About a mile down the road you hit a lot of traffic. You get angry because this is going to make you even later. Noticing people in the street you ask one of them what happened? One person tells you,”Fifteen minutes ago I was driving and next thing I knew a huge tree limb fell on my car and now my car is totaled.”Annabel Armour and Alice da Cunha

In this case it was “bashert” you woke up late and couldn’t find your wallet so you would not have been the one with a fallen limb on your car.

And what about the driver of the car that had the limb fall on her car? Well, it would be considered “bashert” too.  It’s believed that even though something bad happened during one moment in her life, something good will come out of it as a result. So to get to that good it was bashert she go through the bad.

The reason I bring this word to your attention is that it has a great deal of meaning in the current production of Remy Bumppo, Sarah Ruhl’s  “The Clean House”. This is an amazingly funny story about a love relationship between a husband and wife, both Doctors and how he finds a special love that “was meant to be” which changes all their lives.

The story begins as we meet Matilde (the adorable Alice de Cunha) who is the maid for this family. She is depressed as her parents have both died, due to laughter and while her job is to clean their home, she hates cleaning. She wants to be like her dearly departed parents, funny! She is in fact seeking “the perfect joke” but is afraid that once she finds it, her life will have no purpose. As it turns out, her mother died of laughter from a joke her father told her and then, after losing his beloved, he took his own life. In fact, that is why she is depressed.Patrice Egleston and Alice da Cunha

The doctor that is her employer is Lane (deftly handled by Patrice Engleston) who works hard at the hospital and very seldom has time to meet or see her husband Charles (Shawn Douglass, who also handles the role of Matilde’s father in flashbacks). He is a plastic surgeon/oncologist who as it turns out meets a patient, Ana ( gloriously played by Charin Alvarez, who also plays Matilde’s mother in her flashbacks). During the play we learn that Charles and Ana are “bashert” and so they want to share their great love with all concerned.

Lane’s sister, Virginia (an incredible performance and character developed by Chicago favorite Annabel Armour, who steals many a scene in this zany story). Virginia, a housewife with no children loves to clean and finds herself spending afternoons with Matilde doing the cleaning and laundry that Matilde is getting paid to do. In many ways this is a comedy of life itself, pointing out to us, the audience that there are many little things that we face each day that cause our lives to either flourish or flounder.Shawn Douglass, Charin Alvarez, and Alice da Cunha

Sharply directed by Ann Filmer on a set that was designed to be very “white” (Grant Sabin) we find that the theater, one that is normally three sided, is now two and while they do lose some seats, it is understandable that the only way that The GreenHouse works is as they have designed this set- for the actors and the sight lines. The lighting(Charles Cooper), Costumes( Janice Pytel),Sound (Christopher Kriz) and props(Jesse Gaffney) are the icing on the cake along with some slick choreography by Mindy Meyers.

Getting back to the story, Ruhl takes us on an adventure in reality. We all seek perfection. Either in our family lives, our careers or our careers. In this story, the perfect joke can end it all for Ana who is suffering from Cancer and will die.Rather than destroy those in her life, she is willing to die laughing, hearing the perfect joke so she can die with a smile on her face. I will not tell you much more so not to ruin the special evening that Remy Bumppo has planned for you. They say that laughter is the best medicine for what ails you. I truly believe this to be the case, and this production will give you a great dose of good feeling. The cast is sheer perfection and under Filmer’s direction, this may just be the most enjoyable one hour and forty five minutes of magical comedy you will have. There are some moments when Spanish is the language spoken and that is okay. We never miss a beat with the delightful Ms da Cunha and Ms Alvarez dong Spanish, and for my money, Ms Armour is the absolute perfect Virginia.

“The Clean House” will continue at The Greenhouse Theater Center located at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue through January 11th with performances as follows:Patrice Egleston, Annabel Armour, Charin Alvarez, and Shawn Douglass

Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.

December 17th and January 7th, there will be Wednesday performances at 7:30 p.m.

also on Friday, December 26th Saturday December 27th and Thursday, January 1st, there will be 2:30 p.m. performances.

Tickets range from $42.50 to $57.50 and as always student tickets are a mere $15. To purchase them, visit the box office, call 773-244-8119 or online

There is parking on the street, some metered, some not, but there are some zones and construction areas, so you might want to take advantage of the Children’s Memorial garage just North of the theater. there are 100 FREE spaces, first come first served.

To see what others are saying, visit, go to Review Round-up and click at “The Clean House”



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