Premiering last Saturday on Youtube, RC Players’ “Perfect Arrangement” has all the makings of a play — sans the stage, costumes and a jam-packed audience. Yet, that won’t stop this show from being a dashing success; just ask LSA freshman Kieran Grossman, director of the show.
Instead of a filmed or Zoom-recorded production during the pandemic, Grossman elected to do something old, new, borrowed and just for you: a radio play.
“Radio dramas were still popular back in the 1950s, so I thought it would be a nice bit of thematic unity if ‘Perfect Arrangement’ was one as well,” Grossman told The Daily in a virtual interview.
You might be wondering: Why would I watch this? I’m too busy listening to Taylor Swift’s latest album release and rewatching “WandaVision.” Well, guess what? “Perfect Arrangement” is like the perfect combination of the two, with a little heartbreak and a little ’50s flair.
“‘Perfect Arrangement’ is about two queer couples, one gay and one lesbian, during the 1950s that are essential(ly) each other’s beard,” Grossman said. “It gets complicated because two of the people in the couple, Bob and Norma, work for the U.S. State Department during the Lavender Scare who are looking to root out communist and homosexual (people).”
When I first heard the premise of the show, I was so excited to see a show that talked about the Lavender Scare. I don’t really get to hear about queer stories before Stonewall, but that doesn’t make them any less impactful to me. It is important to see queer people in historical settings to counteract the nullification of the LGBTQ+ community.
Written by Topher Payne, “Perfect Arrangement” is a perfect example of queer culture in times of conservative paranoia. Grossman was sure to mention the importance of portraying queer culture as it existed before 1969: “I wanted to do a play with LGBTQ themes in it,” Grossman said. “I was interested in a play that portrayed sexuality in the ’50s because you never hear about queerness in the ’50s as much as you do during the ’60s and Stonewall.”
In just two hours, the show offers us a chance to listen in on a little bit of ’50s Americana — with transatlantic accents galore — while also maybe shedding a tear or two. “Perfect Arrangement” will pull you in with its “I Love Lucy” aesthetic and leave you worried if these two couples will ever find love in a world that wants to deny their existence.
“If you want some ’50s comedy nostalgia and some nice and juicy drama as well, it’s a good show to hear,” Grossman said.
Now, wait a minute! You might be wondering what “Perfect Arrangement” has to do with music icon Lil Nas X. Well, perceptive reader, after I interviewed Grossman about his creative process and “Perfect Arrangement,” I was dying to know one thing: If “Perfect Arrangement” were to have a theme song, what would its song be?
Although I was expecting a song by Billie Holiday or Elvis Presley due to the play being set in the ’50s, I was met with a far more iconic answer.
“‘MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name),’ specifically the lyric ‘Call me by your name / and tell me you love me in private.’ That’s what I’ve been thinking about for this play …mostly because a) it’s gay, b) they are all closeted just like Nas X was and it’s the source of the conflict in this play,” Grossman said.
So, with that one song in mind, I knew what I had to do … make a playlist. With Grossman’s words echoing in the back of my head, I began to compile a list of songs that captured the elements of “Perfect Arrangement.” Whether it be the Lavender Scare, “I Love Lucy,” or coming-out stories, this playlist touches base with each theme I feel fits into the show.
So, maybe before you watch “Perfect Arrangement,” check out the playlist “Gay Rights!!! And also the 50s” on my Spotify page. Who knows, maybe you’ll love it — there’s only one way to find out.
“Perfect Arrangement” aired on April 10 on the RC Players’ Youtube channel. For more information about the Rest of RC Players’ season, check out their website.
Daily Arts Writer Matthew Eggers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.