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Perfect Arrangement

a Comedy/Drama
CATEGORY : DRAMA
by Topher Payne

COMPANY : Theatrical Outfit [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Balzer Theatre @ Herren's [WEBSITE]
ID# 5236

SHOWING : February 22, 2018 - March 18, 2018

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Winner of the 2014 American Theatre Critics Association Osborn Prize

1950. Georgetown. Washington, D.C. As the Red Scare looms large, two State Department employees, Bob and Norma, receive orders to expose “moral turpitude” within the government. But the coworkers are both gay and have married each other’s partners, Millie and Jim, in a picture-perfect façade of domestic, mid-century bliss separated, literally, by a shared closet door. Inspired by true stories of social survival, this bubbly cocktail party-meets-TV sitcom simmers into poignant realism as the four mates face exposure and a future more gray than Technicolor.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Adam Koplan
Millie Martindale Ann Marie Gideon
Jimmy Baxter Clifton Guterman
Barbara Grant Stacy Melich
Norma Baxter Courtney Patterson
Theodore Sunderson Kevin Stillwell
Kitty Sunderson Ann Wilson
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

Imperfect Rearrangement
by playgoer
Sunday, March 11, 2018
4.0
The set doesn’t scream "1950." True, there are an easy chair and a matching set of console and end tables that appear mid-century modern, but mostly the space is spacious and elegant, in tones of blue and dusky rose. There’s a bit of the feel of a circus, with a scalloped valence topping the walls and continuing on in an oval over the playing space in Nadia Morgan’s set design. The real 1950’s flavor comes from Linda Patterson’s extensive costume parade of dresses and gowns for the ladies. If the costume design has any fault it’s that the females’ clothes are all so enchanting that the supposedly super-elegant design style of character Barbara Grant (Stacy Melich) comes across as barely more put-together than anyone else’s.

The action at first seems to be purely comic. Ann Wilson is delightfully ditzy as Kitty Sunderson, and the product endorsements from Millie Martindale (played by Ann Marie Gideon) and Norma Baxter (Courtney Patterson) strike a note of farcical silliness. Even when Theodore Sunderson (the poised and impressive Kevin Stillwell) leaves with his wife and we learn the true relationships behind the sham marriages of Jimmy Baxter (played by Clifton Guterman) and Bob Martindale (Joe Knezevich), the situation is primed for comic complications.

What happens under Adam Koplan’s direction, though, is that the tone becomes more and more serious as the play progresses. At the end, we see everyone in the combined Martindale/Baxter household except Bob leaving to fight for social justice. We aren’t left with a hopeful feeling that these people are battling for future good, though; we’re left with the image of Bob having been deserted by all those he held most dear. It’s an unnecessarily bleak ending for a comic play with serious undertones. The serious acting chops of the four principals ground the characters’ actions in such emotional truth that lightness boils away over the course of the play.

A. Julian Verner’s props are fine, if a little skimpy on the hors d’oeuvres, and Dan Bauman’s sound design certainly sets the time period with overly loud pre-show pop songs, radio ads, and jingles from the 1950’s. James Aitken’s lighting design does all it needs to illuminate the action, adding some notes of color on the back drop seen through the arched windows. George Deavours wigs work fairly well, with Ms. Gideon’s a trifle unruly and Ms. Wilson’s a bit frothy, while the others help establish more grounded characters.

Theatrical Outfit’s production of Topher Payne’s "Perfect Arrangement" is certainly professional, although a few line bobbles could be noted in the opening performances. It’s a strong play (despite the anachronistic mention of frozen pie crusts, which were not commercially available in 1950), and it’s being given an attractive production. If only its ending weren’t directed to be so somber, the play could be a lot of thought-provoking fun. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
a copy and paste from Topher’s Facebook page by Okely Dokely
I don’t know who “playgoer” is on theaterreview.com is, but the reference to frozen pie crusts in Perfect Arrangement drives them to distraction every time they see the show. They ding it as an anachronism.
So, if you know this person, please tell them:
It’s not a joke about store-bought frozen pie crust. The play takes place prior to its commercial availability. No one says Norma buys frozen pie crusts.
Freezing your own homemade pie crust gained popularity in the early 1940s. It was frowned upon, the claim being that it negatively impacted flavor. If you REALLY loved your family, you’d prep it fresh.
But Norma’s a busy career gal, so she’d be all about shortcuts.
So that’s the joke.
Also, thank you very much for supporting local theatre.

Now I want pie.


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