Thursday, May 11, 2017

Six Degrees of Separation


It isn’t often these days that you see a straight play with 18 actors on Broadway, so I salute the producers for bringing us this expensive revival. John Guare’s popular 1990 send-up of limousine liberals is based on a true story about a young man (the excellent Corey Hawkins) who passes himself off as Paul Poitier, son of actor Sidney, to worm his way into the homes of several wealthy East Side couples who should know better.The story is told by one such couple, art dealer Flan Kittredge (a surprisingly underwhelming John Benjamin Hickey) and his wife Ouisa (Allison Janney, competent but no match for my memories of Stockard Channing),. “Paul” is well dressed, charming and articulate, knows details about their children at Harvard, and  dangles the promise of casting them in the film Cats that his father is coming to New York to direct. They let him stay overnight. When Ouisa goes to wake him the next morning, he is in bed with a hustler (James Cusati-Moyer). During the long scene in which his hosts chase him around the apartment, the naked hustler has ample time to demonstrate that he has all the requisites for a successful career. Later the Kittredges learn that their friends Kitty (Lisa Emery) and Larkin (Michael Countryman) had their own encounter with “Paul” the previous night. We eventually meet their horrid children (Colby Minifie, Keenan Jolliff and Ned Riseley) who are portrayed as cartoon characters. Chris Perfetti fares better as Trent, the young man who has inadvertently set the events in motion. My biggest complaint about the play is the episode in which “Paul” cons two young would-be actors from Utah (Peter Mark Kendall and Sarah Mezzanotte) with tragic results. It is an abrupt shift from the satire of the rest of the play. I found director Trip Cullman’s approach to the play generally too broad. Mark Wendland’s set is very red and very tall. Clint Ramos’s costumes are fine. The play aspires to deeper meanings that it never reaches. Running time: one hour 40 minutes, no intermission.

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