The Perfect Marriage by Val Dunn

ACT I

Scene 1: A Wedding Reception

A woman nearing thirty sits alone at table decorated with the gaudiness of a wedding reception.  She smokes, picks her nails, or some action that indicates the severity of her discomfort. From time to time, she sneaks glances at the bride.

A man walks over from the bar with two glasses of champagne and a nervous disposition. He stands behind a chair, exhales heavily.

Ben: Weddings, huh?

Miranda: Marriage, huh.

Ben: Huh?

Miranda: Marriage. (A pause) I’ve heard weddings lead to marriage.

Ben: Only heard? You aren’t married, a pretty girl like you?

Miranda: (Mocking Ben) Do you come here often?

Ben: Sorry, that was rough. No more lines, I promise.

Miranda: Mmm.

Ben: Have a drink?

Miranda: Are you always this charming with women?

Ben: Does that mean you’re not married?

Miranda: Married?  God, no. No, I’m not married.

Ben: (A wheezy exhale) Thank God. (Ben collapses into the seat next to Miranda.) Cheers.

He clinks his glass against hers.

Miranda: I’m a lesbian.

Ben chokes quietly on the drink he has just swallowed. Miranda misses this, however, as she is gazing across the dance floor once more.

Ben: (Recovering) Are you always this open?

Miranda: Tonight I am.

Ben: Oh.

Miranda: What? You weren’t hitting on me, were you?

Ben: On you? God, no.

Miranda: Good. Because if you were, you’ve had a pretty lame start.

Ben: You couldn’t pay me to like you.

Miranda: You can’t buy love.

Ben: I said like, I didn’t say love. You can certainly buy like.

Miranda: Is that so?

Miranda’s attention is drifting away from Ben as the Bride glows happier and happier with her new husband. Until-

Ben: So you like girls?

Miranda: Women. I like women. Girls are monsters in ponytails.

Ben: I’ve heard women aren’t much better.

Miranda: You’re pretty insightful, aren’t you?

Ben: I can’t tell if you’ve been mocking me this entire time, or if you’re really just that-

Miranda: Honest?

Ben: I was going to say blunt, but sure.

Miranda: People aren’t honest anymore, are they?

Ben: Well. I guess it depends on your version of honesty.

Miranda: There can’t be more than one version of honesty.

Ben: Ok, then what are you?

Miranda: I already told you, a lesbian.

Ben: No, I mean. Are you mocking me?

Miranda: You brought me champagne, why would I mock you?

Ben: It’s comments like that-

Miranda: I don’t even know your name. How can I possibly mock you if I don’t know your name?

Ben: Ben.

Miranda: Benny.

Ben: No, just Ben. (A pause) So. Which one of those hideous bridesmaid gowns belongs to your lover?

Miranda: All of them.

Ben: What?

Miranda: I’m teasing you, Benny.

Ben: Oh.

Miranda: Do I have to have a lover to attend a wedding?

Ben: No, but. There’s something in your eyes and I don’t think it’s the champagne.

Miranda: She’s not my lover.

Ben: But she used to be?

Miranda: Yes, I thought so. (A pained smile to fill the pause) Are you still waiting for an answer?

Ben: Will you tell me if I say yes?

Miranda gives Ben a look.

Ben: You don’t have to tell me her name, just the dress will be enough.

Miranda: That one. (Miranda points to the twirling bride.) The beautiful white gown worshiping the exquisite bride.

Ben: Oh. Hey, I’m really sorry.

Miranda: Thanks.

Ben: I didn’t mean to pry.

Miranda: No, it’s ok. Like I said, tonight I’m open.

Ben: You aren’t usually?

Miranda: No. I’m afraid not.

Ben: Don’t blame you; society’s a bitch.

Miranda: Just my family. Just people like our lovely bride.

Ben: Ah. Been there before.

Miranda: How do you mean?

Ben: I’m gay.

Miranda: This is an open night.

Ben: No joking.

Miranda: Sorry. I get insensitive when I have champagne and watch my ex dance with a man she’s going to very shortly be fu-

Ben: Why did you come to the wedding?

Miranda is silent.

Miranda: (Quietly) I don’t know. Wouldn’t you?

Ben: Why did she send you an invitation?

Miranda: I think it was because she was afraid. While we were dating, she went around telling everybody I was her best friend. So, wouldn’t people wonder if I wasn’t at her wedding? Bit of a scandal, don’t you think, Benny?

Ben: Sorry.

Miranda: It’s not a big deal, not really. We just… I was really serious about her. And I thought it went both ways. But looking back, it seems I was just an experiment for her.

Ben: That’s rough.

Miranda: I mean, keep in mind I’m not exactly open about this sort of thing when I’m not sulking around weddings. You’re in an exclusive club now, Benny.

Ben: Let me assure you, you’re part of an even more exclusive club.

Miranda: Oh, gosh. Am I, I mean you never, did you just come out?

Ben: Well, not really, but almost just.

Miranda: Huh. I’d give you a pep talk, Benny, but I’ll need a little more champagne before I feel like pepping anything.

Ben smiles, takes her empty glass, and waltzes back to the bar. In his absence, Miranda checks her phone. Seeing that her mom has called, she dials a number.

Miranda: (Waiting for the other line to pick up) Hello? Mom? Hey, you called- the wedding’s fine, no- no I didn’t catch the… Yes, Mom, I’ll keep that in mind. Mhmm. What? Mom, we’re losing connection. What? Mom. Mom?

Ben arrives with the full glasses as Miranda hangs up her phone.

Ben: Everything ok?

Miranda: Yeah. (A pause) No. Um. It’s just my mom. I think I have to run back to her house.

Ben: But you’re just starting to have a good time.

Miranda: This is a good time?

Ben: Well, don’t leave me here alone. What if I told you I love the groom.

Miranda: You don’t.

Ben: That’s a hefty assumption from a girl-on-girl kind of girl.

Miranda: Women.

Ben: Women-on-women.

Miranda: You’re kind of insensitive, yourself.

Ben: Does champagne always make you so aggressive?

Miranda: Oh, forgive me if I’m a bit irritable while I watch the girl I love-

Ben: Woman. The woman you love.

Miranda: Fuck you.

Ben: I only want to take care of you and I don’t think a night with your mother is going to make you feel better when your mommy doesn’t even know that you’d like to trade places with that stiff-neck of a groom. But you and me, we’re in the same boat here. And I just want you to be happy. Or at least not miserable. And I don’t even know your name.

Miranda: My mother is sick, you bastard. I don’t care if she’s going to make me feel better. I want her to feel better.

Miranda grabs her purse and stomps from the table.

Ben: What’s your name, Cinderella?

Miranda: Wouldn’t you prefer Prince Charming?

Ben: I’d prefer your name.

Miranda: Miranda.

Ben: Miranda, that’s a lovely name, Miranda. Now sit down and listen to my problems.

Miranda: I don’t think I like you. And I definitely don’t want to listen to your problems.

Ben: But I feel like I can talk to you.

Miranda: I knew there was a reason I hate gay men.

Ben: You can’t hate gays.

Miranda: Don’t tell me what I can and can’t do.

By this time, Miranda and Ben have created a small spectacle. As a dance number ends, the Bride excuses herself from the dance floor and approaches the bickering people.

Bride: Look at you two, bickering like an old married couple.

Miranda: That’s funny.

Ben: We’re not bickering.

Miranda: Don’t let us ruin your evening.

Bride: Not at all. I’m so happy you came, Randy. Well, mostly surprised. I’ll be honest, when I sent out the invitations I was sure you would feed it to your cat, or something-

Miranda: My cat would choke on all that lace.

Bride: Like I said, so glad you came.

Miranda: Is that why you sent me an invitation? Because you didn’t think I’d come to your wedding?

Bride: Don’t mince my words.

Ben: Hey, I don’t care if this is your wedding. I’ll ask that you don’t talk to my girlfriend like that.

Bride: (With the attitude of a person knocked down a few notches) Oh. I didn’t know it was like that.

Miranda: (Catching on) Yeah. It’s like that.

Miranda steps a little closer to Ben, she slides his hand around her waist.

Bride: Well, I’m glad you’ve found some happiness. I was so worried, I heard that you were having trouble moving on, and the last thing I wanted between us was hard feelings.

Miranda: Yup. Completely moved on. You couldn’t pay me to like you. (A beat) Your present is on the table.

Bride: How sweet of you to get us something. Mark will be so ple-

Miranda: There was a gift registry. Besides, it’s not for your husband.

Bride: I’m sure it’s lovely.

Ben: Have a nice evening.

The Bride, slightly affronted, returns to the arms of her husband. Miranda turns to Ben.

Miranda: Have a nice evening?

Ben: Randy?

Miranda: Gosh, I’m not over her.

Ben: That bitch?

Miranda: You’re a friend of the groom, I suppose?

Ben: Distantly.

Miranda: My mother-

Ben: -can wait.

Ben leads her back to the table, forces the flute of champagne into her hand.

Ben: I have an idea.

Miranda: Let me finish this glass first.

She does, he hands her his.

Ben: More like a proposal.

Miranda: Shoot.

Ben: Will you marry me, Miranda?

Miranda: What?

Ben: You heard me.

Miranda: Benny, you’re gay. I’m gay.

Ben: It’s legal in New York.

Miranda: That’s not what I meant.

Ben: Think about it Miranda. This night aside, we’re both snuggled into our closets. If your family is anything like mine, you’re running out of excuses, Miranda; you’ve got to be thirty-

Miranda: Twenty-Nine.

Ben: Twenty-Nine and you have yet to bring home an eligible bachelor for your father’s approval. Meanwhile, you have to be extra careful when you do see another woman because your parents are starting to get worried. What’s the one thing that would cancel out any suspicion regarding your sexuality?

Miranda: Marriage, but…

Ben: Exactly. It’s the ultimate cover-up.

Miranda: People have tried it before and it doesn’t work.

Ben: But those people, the husband and wife weren’t both gay. It was a sordid, secret affair. Not us!

Miranda: But not us. Because we would both know.

Ben: You’re catching on.

Miranda: Don’t think I haven’t thought of this before tonight.

Ben: But have you ever found someone so willing? Miranda, Miranda. We’d be home free! You could bring in any number of women to our home, and I would not care. Because I’ll be fucking every boy I can in our spare bedroom.

Miranda: The same bedroom my mother uses when she visits?

Ben: Right, save the spare bedroom for your mother. We’ll do our dirty deeds in the living room then.

Miranda: But marriage is so…

Ben: Conventional?

Miranda: Yeah.

Ben: And we could be beacons of conventionality.

Miranda: This wouldn’t work.

Ben: Why not?

Miranda: We might be OK with having affairs outside our ‘marriage’, but what about our lovers? Do you think they’ll want to have an affair with a married person?

Ben: We don’t have to wear our rings in public. Only around our parents.

Miranda: So many things could go wrong. And I don’t like diamonds.

Ben: Emeralds?

Miranda: You can’t buy love.

Ben: You can buy like.

Miranda: What if I want a divorce?

Ben: We’ll burn that bridge when we need to.

Miranda: This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

Ben: But you agree that it could work.

Miranda: There’s a less than ten percent chance that this could work.

Ben: Do you have a better chance with your lovely lady in white?

Miranda: Fuck you.

Ben: Only on our honeymoon. Just to make things official.

Miranda: Only if I’m fuller of champagne than I am now.

Ben: We’ll save no expense on our nuptials.

Miranda: I want to go to Spain.

Ben: Well I want Paris, so we’ll go to both.

Miranda: You’re a romantic.

Ben: Call me gay.

Miranda: Call me a lesbian, but I think it’s stupid.

Ben: But you’re falling in love with the idea.

Miranda: I’ll think about it.

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1 Comment

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One response to “The Perfect Marriage by Val Dunn

  1. kgavin2

    Stronger development of Ben who is sometimes overpowered by the strong development of Miranda. Watch use of cliches. Contradictory: although they say they aren’t open, the scene indicates a comfort with themselves and each other that contradicts what they say to each other, especially the idea of having “beards.”
    We’d like to see more interaction with the bride. Also, we were wondering what gift she gave her – it’s seems like it could either be a nice gag and/or an interesting way to further show the relationship between the Miranda and her ex.

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