Because she's an intense, striking brunette, Vanessa Severo is often cast as the most hellacious hellion: vengeful goddess, ferocious prostitute, Lucy Van Pelt. Because she has a dancer's grace and a gift for silent comedy, she also turns up in darling curios such as The Coppelia Project, the clown ballet from Hybrid: a Theatre Collective. It's worth celebrating, then, the good sense that inspired the Unicorn Theatre's artistic director, Cynthia Levin, to cast Severo as Matilde, the Brazilian maid who yearns to be a comedian in Sarah Ruhl's funky, funny The Clean House. Playing Matilde, Severo revealed her gift for loud comedy as well. Matilde lived for laughter and beauty, for dirty jokes and wicked high heels. Nobody works those like Severo, who, a couple of months later, brought the same noisy flutter and fun to Advice From a Spider, a dark fable from her own pen.
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