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Six Degrees of Separation
a Comedy/Drama
by John Guare

ID# 5457

SHOWING : March 08, 2019 - March 24, 2019



Inspired by a true story, the play follows the trail of a young con man, Paul, who insinuates himself into the lives of a wealthy New York couple, Ouisa and Flan Kittredge, claiming he knows their son at college. Paul tells them he is the son of actor Sidney Poitier, and that he has just been mugged and all his money is gone. Captivated by Paul’s intelligence and his fascinating conversation (and the possibility of appearing in a new Sidney Poitier movie), the Kittredges invite him to stay overnight. But in the morning they discover him in bed with a young hustler from the streets, and the picture begins to change. After kicking him out, Ouisa and Flan discover that friends of theirs have had a similar run-in with the brash con artist. Intrigued, they turn detective and piece together the connections that gave Paul access to their lives. Meanwhile, Paul’s cons unexpectedly lead him into darker territory and his lies begin to catch up with him. As the final events of the play unfold, Ouisa suddenly finds herself caring for Paul, feeling that he gave them far more than he took and that her once idyllic life was not what it seemed to be. No subject is left untouched in this comic, fast-paced and affecting piece. The title refers to a statistical theory which states that any two people in the world can be connected through only six other people. The play is an examination of the threads of chance that link one person to another.

This play is recommended for audience members high school age and older due to mature content: language and sex/sexuality. Due to the nature of theater performances, ticket sales are non-refundable.

Ouisa Phyllis Giller
Tess Meagan Graham
Flan Jim Gray
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Giving the Fifth Degree
by playgoer
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
"Six Degrees of Separation" seems like a risky choice for church-based community theatre, with a script featuring nudity, homosexuality, and profanity. ACT1 has toned down the language, omitted the nudity, and sanitized the homosexuality to barely venture beyond a guy’s arm draped over a buddy’s shoulder. That removes some of the power of the story, but also prevents sensationalism from overwhelming it. All in all, it’s an approach that works.

Director Pam Duncan has put a definite stamp on the production. Phone conversations may start with a telephone receiver brought to an actor’s ear, but generally the actor’s hand drops and the conversation continues with the actor on the other side of the conversation appearing on the opposite side of the stage (sans phone). Scene changes are accomplished with blazing speed, often accompanied by on-stage costume changes as Ouisa (Phyllis H. Giller) and Flan (Jim Gray) go to their respective coat racks to swap out jackets, shoes, and accessories. Direct address to the audience fills in narration during these times. It all flows very smoothly.

Bob Cookson’s set shows us the elegant living room of Flan and Ouisa Kittredge, all ivory fabric and mahogany wood. Up center is the double-sided Kandinsky referenced in the script. It’s in a spotlight and slowly revolves before the show and during intermission, stopping to show one side as each act proceeds. It’s a nice touch.

Costumes (by Meagan Graham, Caroline Kuzel, and Jessica Williams) do a nice job of clothing the large cast, although the pink shirt the script refers to is the very palest of pinks, appearing near-white under stage lights. Costumes reflect the social status of the various characters, with some very nice outfits for the upper-class females.

Chris Voss’ props and Murray Mann’s lighting and sound design do all they need to. One nice prop touch is having two actors (siblings Nicholas and Meagan Graham) appear in the background holding objects as they are described. Lighting helps distinguish scenes in the living room center stage from scenes in a dorm room (stage right, with a bed pushed out for the scene) and in a shabby apartment (stage left, with a big trunk in place all the time). Phone conversation action in the stage right area (minus bed) is nicely lit, but actors moving from there to center go through a shadowed area.

Acting is good overall, with no performance detracting from the production. Ms. Giller is terrific as Ouisa, and exceptionally fine performances also come from Joshua Dover as a homosexual college student, Stephanie Escorza as an aspiring actress from Utah, and Tibor Szenti as a hoodwinked doctor. Mark Krohn adds a comic spin as a detective, and Alex Parkinson exudes elegance as a South African mine owner. Maya Garner equals Ms. Giller’s elegance as a friend of equal social standing, and Justin McCoy makes an amazing theatrical debut as Paul, the young con-man whose exploits fuel the trajectory of the play. There’s a true ensemble feel to the show.

Pam Duncan has directed a fluid production of a fairly talky play, keeping the running time down to a reasonable two hours (including intermission). The racy subject matter has been toned down from what it could be, making it more palatable for audiences entering a church building to view the entertainment, and the production is well-rehearsed. "Six Degrees of Separation" tells the tale of a society woman initially taken in by a con-man, then attempting to discover the truth about him, and the play itself has a bit of the same effect on audiences, taking them in with a theatrical flourish, then letting them ponder the ramifications of initial gullibility. It’s an interesting play, and ACT1 is giving it an interesting production. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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