PROVO — Theatre fans should be open variety of experiences and expressions of the art form. So, when I heard BYU was doing a series of staged readings, I was intrigued. Their new Contemporary Voices series this year includes two plays and a musical running through Nov 5. The first in the series of script-in-hand readings is the Pulitzer Prize finalist play The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl.

Show closes November 5, 2022.

The story of The Clean House centers around 4 women who come into contact when doctor Lena is looking for a maid to clean her house (possibly as a live-in employee). Lena’s sister, Virginia, wants to help with the cleaning because she gets a rise from seeing something go from dirty to clean. The Brazilian woman Lena has hired, Matilde, hates cleaning and dreams of being a comedian, and a woman named Anna comes into the story as Lena’s husband’s new lover. As these women interact they learn about themselves, their dreams and what makes for a great joke.

After the reading, director and festival producer Megan Sanborn Jones told the audience that The Clean House is her all-time favorite play. Given the awards and recognition that The Clean House has received over the years, she is not alone in her appreciation. But, I must respectfully disagree. While, The Clean House is not bad, nothing about it was particularly special or outstanding. The play bills itself as a romantic comedy, but it rarely gets beyond sitcom-level observations of marriage, love, and female relationships. It was amusing, and some of the banter between the women worked, but nothing that felt especially strong or memorable.

That said, I still enjoyed the reading experience and being introduced to a new to me playwright and her work. I do wonder, however, if a play where stretches are in Portuguese with no translation is a great choice for a staged reading? After all, there were no sets or other visual elements of a fully mounted production to add context to those scenes and help the audience understand what the characters are saying.

The cast in the staged reading all did a good job bringing personality while reading the dialogue. I particularly enjoyed Eden Bostrom as Lane. She is a complex and layered character who goes on the biggest growth journey within the piece. Alice Roque is also charming as Matilde. The performances were strong enough that I wish I could see this cast in a full production of the play, and not just a staged reading.

Still, there is something fun about the raw energy of a staged reading, and the Contemporary Voices series at BYU brings that out in their production of The Clean House. These readings are a low-cost way to add variety to Utahns’ theatre-going experiences.

Contemporary Voices consists of three productions: The Clean House (October 20, 29, and November 5), Matilda the Musical (October 21, 28, and November 3), and Shakespeare in Love (October 22, 27, and November 4). All performances start at 7:30 PM and play on the main stage in the West Campus Central Building on the campus of Brigham Young University. Tickets are $7-8. For more information, visit