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Perfect Arrangement - Full Length Play, Comedy

Perfect Arrangement

Topher Payne

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Full Length Play, Comedy

3m, 4f

ISBN: 9780573705083

"[A] clever canapé of a comedy...Mr. Payne is a deft and witty writer." - The New York Times

More Information Below:

Description | Characters | Author | Now Playing | Reviews
: Acting Edition
: Large Print
: Stage Manager

Minimum Fee: $75 per performance


Full Length Play


120 minutes (2 hours)

Time Period - 1950s

Settings Of Play -

The living room of the Martindales’ Georgetown duplex, Washington DC. Spring, 1950.


Interior Set

Period Costumes


No Special Cautions




College Theatre / Student, Professional Theatre


From Off-Broadway, Finalist, Lambda Award for Drama

It’s 1950, and new colors are being added to the Red Scare. Two U.S. State Department employees, Bob and Norma, have been tasked with identifying sexual deviants within their ranks. There’s just one problem: Both Bob and Norma are gay, and have married each other’s partners as a carefully constructed cover. Inspired by the true story of the earliest stirrings of the American gay rights movement, madcap classic sitcom-style laughs give way to provocative drama as two “All-American” couples are forced to stare down the closet door.


"[A] clever canapé of a comedy...Mr. Payne is a deft and witty writer." - The New York Times, Read More 

“As hiding gets harder, pitch-perfect comedy ensues: slamming doors, strange disguises, preposterous excuses [….] Eventually, the four must decide whether face-saving domestic lies are worth it, or whether ostracism beats living in fear. In our own era of surveillance and paranoia, their mid-century problems don’t feel so far away.” - The New Yorker

"Usually a playwright has to choose between writing a laugh-out-loud comedy and a very serious drama. Topher Payne has written both with Perfect Arrangment." - TheatreMania, Read More 

"The best thing about Topher Payne’s fabulous Perfect Arrangement is its pitch-perfect capture of the 1950s comic voice, and its application to the dreadfully serious drama." - DC Theatre Scene, Read More


Perfect Arrangment premiered at the Source Festival in Washington DC in June 2013 under the direction of Linda Lombardi.



3m, 4f

BOB MARTINDALE - 30s-40s, A WWII veteran, reserved. A bit bookish, but a solid man's man. Good-humored and well-mannered.
MILLIE MARTINDALE - late 20s-30s,  Bob's wife. Plays "The dizzy wife" when people are in the house, but actually very quick-witted and observant. Smart enough to maintain the act. 
NORMA BAXTER - 30s, The knowing, efficient, classy dame. A secretary at the State Department who could just as easily be Secretary of State. A smart woman who's great with a wisecrack and level-headed in a bind.
JIM BAXTER - 20s-30s, Norma's husband. A prankster type, always ready with a comeback. A high school teacher with lots of energy. A little wired, good with a plan. 
THEODORE SUNDERSON - 40s-50s, The boss. Bombastic, loud, a little overbearing. A patriotic windbag.
KITTY SUNDERSON - 40s, Ted's wife. Legitimately ditzy. Her brain seems to work on a totally different wavelength than the rest of the world. Very sweet, and very genuine. Just doesn't quite "get it".
BARBARA GRANT - 40s, A formidable opponent. No-nonsense, beautiful, brilliant, and a little scary.

Topher Payne

Topher Payne

In 2014, The American Theatre Critics Association awarded Topher Payne’s play Perfect Arrangement the M. Elizabeth Osborn Prize for Best Play by An Emerging Playwright. The play went on to be produced Off-Broadway in 2015 by Primary Stages and MARS Theatricals, and was a finalist for a 2017 Lambda Literary Award. His other works for the stage include Evelyn in Purgatory, Swell Party, The Only ... view full profile

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