Commonweal's 'Clean House' is no joke

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Stop, stop, you’re killing me.

That’s no joke in "The Clean House," a comedy/drama currently running at the Commonweal Theatre in Lanesboro.

The play, by written by Sarah Ruhl and directed by Megan K. Pence, is witty and clever, and if you don’t have an aversion to a little fantasy here and there, it’s a pleasant and entertaining two hours of theater.

What’s significant about this production is that three of the five actors on stage are not members of the Commonweal company. Fernanda Badeo and Colleen Barrett, both professional actors from the Twin Cities, make their Commonweal debuts, while Betti Battocletti, also a Twin Cities professional, returns to the Commonweal stage after being seen in 2017’s "Steel Magnolias."

They are joined by Commonweal Company members Adrienne Sweeney and Jeremy van Meter, who portray two doctors married to each other. Sweeney, as usual, is rock solid as Lane, a physician who needs to dig deep to find an emotional connection to others.


Van Meter, as Charles, is sure-footed in a funny role, never more so than in his operating-suite tango with Barrett.

The story is that Charles has fallen in love with a patient, Ana (Barrett), and intends to leave Lane. Meanwhile, Lane’s housekeeper, Matilde, is more interested in telling jokes than in cleaning the house, and Lane’s sister, Virginia, is more than willing to step in and keep everything neat and tidy.

Badeo is completely charming as Matilde, while Battocletti has the refreshing quality of not overselling her character’s lines.

In fact, Pence, in her swan song as a Commonweal director (she’s leaving for grad school), does well to keep what could easily become an over-the-top production from spinning off its axis. Instead, we get characters who are quirky but believable. That, in turn, makes them lovable.

Back to the joke: Matilde insists her mother died laughing when her father told the perfect joke. Now Matilde has an opportunity to try out her skill as a joke-teller. How effective will she be? You’ll have to see "The Clean House" to find out.

What: "The Clean House"

When: Through Oct. 22


Where: Commonweal Theatre, 208 Parkway Ave. N, Lanesboro

Tickets: $35 adults, $15 students; 800-657-7025 and

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