Six Degrees of Separation
"How every person is a new door, opening up into other worlds. Six degrees of separation between me and everyone else on this planet. But to find the right six people."
These words are spoken by Quisa Kittredge, who lives with her husband Flan, an art dealer in a fabulous flat overlooking Central Park in New York City. Their comfortable lives and high-class world are about to be shaken, not by Flan’s work or their distant children, but by a clever and resourceful young man by the name of Paul.
Paul is a young, college-aged black man who arrives at their doorstep with a small knife wound and a story about just having been mugged in the park. With no money, Paul uses his "predicament" to charm Flan and Quisa and charm them he does! But Paul is not what he seems, or claims.
"Six Degrees of Separation" is the latest offering by the Epic Theater Co. Rhode Island located in Pawtucket. The play is a curious mix of comedy and tragic circumstance; it nevertheless works well in this intimate venue.
Ronald Lewis as Paul is competent as the young man claiming to be the son of Sidney Poitier, his performance carrying the complexity of Paul’s nature to use people for his personal gains. Kimball Crossley as Flan coveys the art dealer as a man who seems to care more about his possessions than his wife or children; he is quite at ease in this role.
As Tess, Emily Lonardo plays the rebellious daughter with glee and exasperation. The others seduced by Paul, Rick (Rob Roy who also plays a hustler in a dual role,) and Elizabeth (Kerry Giorgi) are both excellent in their roles.
It is the performance of Quisa by Gayle Hanrahan that truly gives the show its heart. She inhabits her role completely and her last conversation with Paul is heartbreaking. The rest of the cast is competent in an assortment of small roles. It must also be said that there is some brief nudity and adult language and situations, given that Paul’s character is gay.
Matt Fraza as director keeps a tight pace on his performers, this is quite welcome as there is no intermission here. The set design is simple and works well in a rather small space; it merely adds to the intimacy. The piece was written in the late 1980’s by John Guare based on his real-life experience with a con man who claimed to be the son of actor Sidney Poitier.
It premiered at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater in 1990 and made its debut on Broadway later that year. It won several awards in 1991 including a Tony Award for Best Play. Epic Theater Co. was founded by Kevin Broccoli and is located in the Zabinski Studio at Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket, RI. The company also produces other shows locally, and encourages collaboration between other theater organizations.