Saturday, October 10, 2015

Perfect Arrangement @ The Duke on 42nd Street

 Perfection is the only word that can describe Primary Stages’ Perfect Arrangement.  Somehow, a show set in the 1950s is fun, contemporary and completely relevant to today.  Topher Payne’s script engages, makes you laugh, and also cry, as you follow the lives of Bob and Norma and their seemingly perfect marriages.

Robert Eli (Bob) and Julia Coffey (Norma) play two U.S. State Department officials during the Red Scare, who are tasked with removing anyone from their ranks who is considered a “threat” to the U.S. government, ie: anyone practicing lewd behavior, sluts and homosexuals.  The catch? Bob and Norma are both gay who are living next door to one another in sham marriages.  During times when guests visit, it appears that Bob and his wife, Mikaela Feely-Lehmann (Millie), and Norma and her husband, Christopher J. Hanke (Jim), have ideal marriages, when in reality the couples are Millie and Norma and Jim and Bob who cross back and forth between the two houses seamlessly through a secret door hidden in their closet.  This provides a lot of room for hilarity as they constantly have to think quickly when someone asks about their supposed spouses’ whereabouts. 

The watershed moment comes when we meet the sexually adventurous, U.S. State Department translator, Barbara Grant, (Kelly McAndrew), and learn she is someone from Millie's past who knows about her all too well.  We see the families blackmailed; the worry of Bob and Norma’s boss, Mr. Sunderson (Kevin O’Rouke), who’s main argument for starting this crusade now coming to a sharp reality.  The lines get drawn once again as we see the dynamic between the societal advantages of men and women during the 50s come into focus.  The two couples come up with separate plans to stifle this blackmailer which only leads to more trouble and eventual destruction of everything they worked so hard to achieve.  

This show keeps you laughing until suddenly, you’re crying.  You start to scream silently in your head as their “perfect arrangement” becomes unraveled and the only thing you can do is stand by and watch.  The entire cast does a wonderful job of pulling you in and making themselves a part of your lives.  You leave, forever changed, viewing the world today just a bit differently than you did before.  

The Duke on 42nd Street is an intimate black-box theater that has been transformed by Neil Patel into a beautiful stereotypical 1950’s home that reminds you just a bit too well of the room in your grandmother’s house where you couldn’t touch anything.  The hair and wig design by J. Jared Janas and costumes, by Jennifer Caprio, add the touch of authenticity this play calls for.  Kudos to the entire company and crew for a show that is nothing short of excellence.  Perfect Arrangement runs for a limited engagement through November 6th so get your tickets today before it’s too late. 

Review By: Renee Demaio
Photo By: James Leynse

No comments:

Post a Comment