Pulitzer Prize Finalist, 2005; The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, 2004

In a 'metaphysical Connecticut', serious career-oriented doctor Lane has hired a quirky Brazilian maid. The only problem is that the maid, Matilde, hates to clean. Instead, she longs to be a comedienne. Lane is deserted by her husband, Charles, who leaves her for his mistress, Ana, a passionate, older Brazilian woman upon whom he recently performed a mastectomy. The Clean House' is a romantic comedy about loss, love, change and redemption.

The Clean House premiered at Yale Repertory Theatre in 2004, directed by Bill Rauch. It opened Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center Theater's Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre in 2006. The Clean House was the winner of the 2004 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. 

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Vanessa Aspillaga, Blair Brown, Sarah Ruhl and Jill Clayburgh at opening night for The Clean House at Lincoln Center (Photo by Aubrey Reuben)



 Lane, a doctor, a woman in her early fifties. She wears white.

Matilde, Lane’s cleaning lady, a woman in her late twenties. She wears black.  She is Brazilian. She has a refined sense of deadpan.

Virginia, Lane’s sister, a woman in her late fifties.

Charles, Lane’s husband, a man in his fifties. A compassionate surgeon. He is child like underneath his white coat. In the first Act, Charles plays Matilde’s father.

Ana, a woman who is older than Lane*. She is Argentinean. She is impossibly charismatic. In the first Act she plays Matilde’s mother.

 *Ana is named as sixty-seven within the dialogue. This number may be changed from production to production if need be.


Everyone in this play should be able to tell a really good joke.


A white living room.
White couch, white vase, white lamp, white rug.
A balcony.  


A metaphysical Connecticut. Or, a house that is not far from the city and not far from the sea.

1. Matilde 

Matilde tells a long joke in Portuguese to the audience.
We can tell she is telling a joke even though we might not understand the language.
She finishes the joke.
She exits.

2. Lane

Lane, to the audience.

It has been such a hard month.
My cleaning lady—from Brazil—decided that she was depressed one day and stopped cleaning my house.
I was like:
clean my house! 
And she wouldn’t!
We took her to the hospital and I had her medicated and she Still Wouldn’t Clean.
 And—in the meantime—I’ve been cleaning my house! 
I’m sorry, but I did not go to medical school to clean my own house.

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