Six Degrees of Separation

By John Guare

Six Degrees of Separation
Six Degrees of Separation

Directed by Steve Scott

Produced by Eclipse Theatre Company

At the Greenhouse Theatre Center

Polished presentation of a terrific play is an ensemble success

Eclipse Theatre, under the tight direction by Steve Scott, has mounted a most intriguing and effective production of John Guare’s 1990 drama, Six Degrees of Separation.  This slick play, inspired by a true story, focuses in themes of class, human connectedness, art and race.  This play is relevant today as Internet social networks like Facebook and Myspace add to the connectedness of people in our shrinking world.

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We meet Ouisa and Flan Kittredge (Karen Yates and Eric Leonard)–two upper class  Manhattans devoted to money and art.  They are fixated on getting two million dollars from their friend, South African businessman Geoffrey (John  Milewski) when a knock on their door reveals an injured young man, Paul (Michael Pogue). The African-American claims to know their college age children.   It seems Paul was attacked in Central Park.  Claiming to to be the son of  actor/director Sydney Poitier, Paul weaves his charm, charisma,  and rich eloquence to easily win over the status and celebrity-oriented couple.

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Paul is a slick, well-spoken con man who delights in pleasing and fitting-in with the foibles of the rich.  When his con game gets discovered, the story get involved as several couples and their children are forced to come to terms with the fact that everything is not what it seems on the surface. Paul, their children, and their expectations do, indeed, form a human web that renders only six degrees of separation between all of us. Filled with humor, wit, intelligent discourse (especially about modern art), Six Degrees of Separation is an eloquent and sophisticated drama that will leave you thinking and debating the sincerity of Paul and the Kittredge’s.  Is Paul a pure sociopath and con man or is he desperate to find a family to connect with? See this smart play and judge for yourself. How can Paul destroy innocent folks with any remorse?

Karen Yates, Eric Leonard and Michael Pogue led a fine cast of players peopled with many of the finest young talents in Chicago–such as Michael Gonring, Nick Horst, Laura Coover and Zach Gray.  Michael Pogue’s work as the slick con man, Paul, anchors the show.  This is a most engaging night of theatre.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

At the Greenhouse Theatre Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL, call 773-404-7336, tickets $25, www.eclipsetheatre.com, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through August 30, 2009