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Six Degrees of Separation

a Comedy/Drama
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA
by John Guare

COMPANY : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
ID# 4530

SHOWING : January 11, 2014 - February 09, 2014

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Young Paul artfully cons himself into the lives of New York’s bourgeoisie by claiming to know a wealthy couple’s Ivy League children and being the son of Sidney Poitier. After he’s caught seducing a hustler in their home, the charade is revealed and Paul is soon back on the street, where he sets his sights on a young couple new to the city. From the award-winning writer of "The House of Blue Leaves" comes this bitterly funny comedy that explores the intimacy of the universe, and the comfort and chaos found within it.

This show contains nudity and adult content.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Freddie Ashley
Assistant Stage Manager Meghan B Zern
Kitty Lane Carlock
Elizabeth Amy Carpenter
Larkin Larry Davis
Flan James Donadio
Dr. Fine Charles Green
Rick Terry Guest
Detective Peter Hardy
Hustler Jordan Harris
Doorman Luis Hernandez
Paul Jason-Jamal Ligon
Doug Patrick Myers
Ouisa Mary Lynn Owen
Tess Ashley Prince
Geoffrey Doyle Reynolds
Trent Patrick Ruff
Ben Ben Silver
Woody Jordan Snead
Policeman Ronalda Thomas
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REVIEWS

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270 Degrees
by playgoer
Sunday, January 19, 2014
4.0
Comparisons are inevitable between the current production of "Six Degrees of Separation" at Actor’s Express and Georgia Ensemble Theatre’s recent production of "Deathtrap." They both star the same actors portraying the lead married couple (Mary Lynn Owen and James Donadio, here as Ouisa and Flan Kittredge), and both plays have a significant homosexual component. At Georgia Ensemble, the homosexual content was underplayed nearly to the point of non-existence; at Actor’s Express, with its long history of gay-friendly work, the homosexual content is amped up, with full-frontal nudity from Jordan Harris and a lingering, passionate man-on-man kiss. The heat overall is amped up too, with Ms. Owen and Mr. Donadio giving off more electricity in the small confines of Actor’s Express than they provided in the cavernous auditorium used by Georgia Ensemble.

The set, designed by Shannon Robert, consists of a carpeted rectangle, surrounded on three sides by audience, with the fourth side having the carpet arc up onto the wall. Spare, elegant, sumptuous white furniture populates the space, with more standard set pieces (tables and bar) tucked around the periphery of the playing space. Above it all is a modernistic chandelier and a fabric panel that Joseph P. Monaghan III’s lighting causes to change color as scenes change. In front of the non-audience wall is a large two-sided Kandinsky painting that rotates. The overall effect is of a chic New York apartment, although the scenic painting of the Kandinsky is not quite up to par, even though the design appears to be a reproduction of actual works.

The action centers around a young black man who professes to know the Kittredge children, all conveniently away at school, and who uses his natural intelligence and charm to worm his way into the life of the parents. This element of the play doesn’t quite work. Jason-Jamal Ligon is tall, lithe, handsome, and well-spoken, but he doesn’t embody the charismatic charm his character needs. Terry Guest, in the small role of Rick, gives a more textured performance and might have worked better in the role, although Mr. Ligon’s look is perfect as the self-professed son of Sidney Poitier.

Director Freddie Ashley has assembled a large cast of 18 to fill the roles in John Guare’s play. All acquit themselves well. I was particularly impressed with Charles Green as Dr. Fine, a pleasant physician who is venomously detested by his son. He seemed to perfectly inhabit the role.

The real stars of the evening are Mr. Donadio and Ms. Owen. Mr. Donadio ably portrays an upper-crust art dealer, and the glee he and Ms. Owen share as a big deal comes through comes blasting through to the audience. Ms. Owen has the meatier role, and she does justice to every moment of it. I only wish that her hair were in a style pulled back a bit from her face, since it obscures her facial expressions to portions of the audience from time to time. As for her costumes, designed by Elizabeth Rasmusson -- well, wow! They’re elegant, supremely fitted, and perfectly right for the character.

"Six Degrees of Separation" may not wholly succeed in the production at Actor’s Express, but its qualities far outweigh its few deficiencies. The intermissionless play goes on just a tad too long for comfort, but the action is engaging throughout. Director Freddie Ashley has whipped another show into magnificent shape to continue the string of this season’s successes at Actor’s Express. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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