Thursday, March 26, 2015

Suppose Your New Job Was To Betray Your Brothers

Two couples have tried to create the Perfect Arrangement.  It's the 1950s.  Bob Martindale works for the State Department.  Neighbor Norma Baxter is his secretary.  They live in adjoining apartments, appropriately connected by a closet.

March 19 - April 4 Thu/Fri/Sat 7pm
Out North - Primrose and Debarr (kitty corner from Costco)

So this doesn't get lost:   this is a funny play, and you'll laugh, but it packs a punch.  

Bob's assignment of late, has been to root Communists out of the State Department, but they're mostly gone and now his boss has assigned him the task of getting rid of the deviants.  He undertakes this job knowing that he and his lover and Norma and hers are safe in their Perfect Arrangement.

Opening Night Reception After The Performance at Out North
This is a neatly done play by Topher Payne - who was here last Thursday for the West Coast premiere of his work.  There's lots going on in the play.  There are the two different worlds - a social facade of voice and intonation and topic for straight visitors where the ladies chatter about recipes and shopping, the men disparage the women,  and then there's the more open expression of ideas in uncensored vocabulary when the two couples are alone.

But the play is not simply a play about being in the closet or homosexuals for that matter.  Rather it's about marginalized people who have learned to act one way in the outside world and another at home, and who are always worried that their real being will be discovered and always tortured because it can't be.  This play could be about black slaves in the south, or women in a male dominated work place, or undocumented workers. . .

And as the tension rose when Bob was required to make lists of deviants to be fired, I couldn't help think about the Jewish capos in concentration camps who got slightly better treatment for cooperating with the Nazis and keeping tabs on the others.  The dialogue was explicit about the conflict between trying to save oneself and one's duty to the others.  About the small benefits of blending in versus the great losses of denying one's true identity.  We could see the characters' slow debilitating stress of staying hidden, the fear of being discovered and the change it will mean, and the enticing but dangerous thought of standing up and declaring one's identity.  Echoes of the struggle in Selma.  

This is a powerful play with strong acting -  well worth seeing.  Below is a video of the playwright, Topher Payne, talking at the reception after the performance.  You can also see a video with directors/actors Krista Schwarting and Jay Burns here.


  1. Thanks for posting this, Steve.

    Gene and I were wondering where Out North would be in its 30th year. We knew it had to be restarted or die. Along came a new generation of arts leadership willing to bridle reason with the pure passion of doing the work, but more -- being ever resourceful about finding the ways to pay the bills.

    It's so good to see everyone bring it back and for us, to be the best kind of 30th party we could imagine for the old place. Thank-you, all.

    May the present crew find the voyage as rewarding as did its first generation! And yeah, Star Trek works.

    To the Artists Revolution!

    1. My pleasure to share this, especially with you.


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