What's it about?
Perfect Arrangement… there is simply no other way to put it. This was the arrangement of all arrangements. And I mean the type of arrangement that gives arranged marriage a whole new meaning!
Two couples in the 1950's: the Martindales and the Baxters. From the outside these couples look like what most lovebirds would - holding hands, gazing deeply into each others eyes, and so on and so forth. But, behind closed doors… that’s where the real games begin! These so called “couples” aren’t your average everyday kind. Get ready for a plot twist! The husbands are lovers as are the wives and all together they are all the best of friends. It honestly can't get any better than that!
Bob and Jim along with Norma and Millie have been under a confined agreement for fours years now. These lovers are dealing with a time period in which they are forced to try to live normal lives with false identities and fake marriages by day, while hiding among the shadows at night. Nothing is what it seems and their careers are at stake if word were to get loose. But the real question here is - would you throw away the comfort of the life you know and pass up living a lie for the truth that you know won't be accepted?
What did I experience?
Perfect Arrangement is playing at the Duke Theatre in the midst of the bustling and hustling of 42nd Street. But be aware, with the crowds and the constant pushing and shoving and numerous billboards, it’s all too easy to get distracted and lost among the crowd. Take if from me whom it took twice, not one, but TWICE, to walk up and down 42nd Street (like the blonde I am by birth), between 7th and 8th Ave, to find this theatre. Honestly, I was in denial the whole time while I couldn’t find it. The one thought coursing through my mind was, “Had it sprung legs, got up and ran away just as I was coming to see a show?” I mean, COME ON!!! But, while remaining calm and collected it took some intermediate level of i-Spy to really pin it, snug between two other buildings.
Once inside the theatre, to my pleasant surprise, the first thing you will marvel at is the set. As a Barbie Girl fan I was saying to myself, “OH MY GOD HOW CUTE!!!" If you can think back and remember Barbie’s Dream House - on that stage you had a life size imitation it, a 1950's living room, completely decked out. I was in awe, sitting nestled in my amazingly comfortably plush seat soaking in the vibrancy of the colors from the set and the little props and the detailing.
But at the same time, never had I felt so alone. What I could hear was music that to us 90’s kids seems ancient and all these elderly people singing their hearts out while waiting the show to begin. I didn’t know what to be more excited about, the elderly giving their rusty vocals a shot or getting to sit in the front row ready to bask in the theatre.
The story line really had me touched; it made me think about how far we have come as a country. We all believe in Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness - but not that long ago women couldn’t vote. Here in this play we have two men hiding the fact that they are gay and two women hiding the fact that they are lesbians because society isn’t accepting of them. To see the struggles and the obstacles that they had to face to fake a “normal” family lifestyle tore at my heartstrings.
Just as Norma and Millie were getting tired of hiding their love for each other from the public eye, I was right there with them, weary, from having to see them go back and forth from lover to faking an obedient wife. I don’t know if could bare to place myself in their shoes and to mask my identity the way that they had. I could almost feel their pain and sorrow from the burden of the lies accumulating. I think what struck home for me was when Jim tried to hush Norma into continuing to keep their identities a secret by bargaining with her that he would give her a child. And that got me thinking about how difficult it must have been for gay women and men to have children. There was no artificial insemination, and a crude joke made by Bob that the only way for that to play out would be for the girls to find themselves in a cocktail bar at a late hour.