Ghost & Spices' Six Degrees of Separation | Theater | Indy Week
Pin It

Ghost & Spices' Six Degrees of Separation 

From left: Larry Evans, Lenore Field, J. Alphonse Nicholson and David Sennett in "Six Degrees of Separation"

Photo courtesy of Ghost & Spice

From left: Larry Evans, Lenore Field, J. Alphonse Nicholson and David Sennett in "Six Degrees of Separation"

Rachel Klem's zippy, antic but concise staging of John Guare's rapidly aging but still invigorating 1990 Pulitzer-winning comedy, Six Degrees of Separation, wakes up a piece that could easily fall flat on its face in these days of recession. Very much an '80s play—with nods to Gorbachev, Dean & DeLuca and sun-dried tomatoes—it both satirizes and valorizes the moneyed aesthete's life. Six Degrees is the genial uncle of Yasmina Reza's sour, empty Art, and Guare, among the most solicitous of modern American dramatists, draws you right into his colorful bourgeois world. It's a wonderful play.

But be warned: It's a con. The handsome, charming young African-American Paul (J. Alphonse Nicholson) shows up bleeding at the Upper East Side apartment of Ouisa (Lenore Field) and Flan (David Sennett) Kittredge and convinces them he's Sidney Poitier's son. Soon he's got some of their money and, more dangerously, lots of their trust and credulity. Even after the lie is exposed, Ouisa still sees in him the bright, good-hearted Harvard kid he had her convinced he was, rather than the hustler he is.

The catch is that the Kittredges are also hustlers: They specialize in the private resale of great paintings, and we first see them gleefully extracting $2 million from a friend (Larry Evans) in order to help them broker a Cézanne deal. That the Kittredges' hustle has to do with art (there's a suggestively two-faced Kandinsky that hangs, literally, over the play) makes perfect sense: Art's the most attractive con there is, nowhere more so than in the theater, where your waiter by day reappears by night as a character in Chekhov—or Guare.

Klem's direction—of a cast that is without a weak link—abets the con. The 90 intermissionless minutes zoom by so quickly that you can't stop to see how you're being had. That's shrewd, because Guare's philosophical noodlings are themselves mild snow jobs, light, middlebrow dustings over juicy, tawdry action. Paul's long riff on imagination never quite comes together, more a series of metaphors than an idea; and Ouisa's late, famous, titular monologue somehow seems to land the play in the wrong field—interesting, but detachable from what Guare is actually writing about. That bait and switch may be the play's slickest hustle.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Theater



Twitter Activity

Comments

This looks wonderful! I cant wait until it goes on the road so we can see it in California!

by Michelle Nogales on Pioneering African-American Sci-Fi Author Octavia Butler’s Empathy and Foresight Take the Stage in Parable of the Sower (Theater)

Spelling error for one of the owners of RRE: it's Rebekah Carmichael, not Rachel Carmichael. Also, the shows run between …

by J Robert Raines on Raleigh Room Escapes Slips Through the Keyhole Between Room-Escape Games and Immersive Theater (Theater)

Most Recent Comments

This looks wonderful! I cant wait until it goes on the road so we can see it in California!

by Michelle Nogales on Pioneering African-American Sci-Fi Author Octavia Butler’s Empathy and Foresight Take the Stage in Parable of the Sower (Theater)

Spelling error for one of the owners of RRE: it's Rebekah Carmichael, not Rachel Carmichael. Also, the shows run between …

by J Robert Raines on Raleigh Room Escapes Slips Through the Keyhole Between Room-Escape Games and Immersive Theater (Theater)

your 20 sept review of playmakers current offering missed the boat, big time. the play portrayed all the characters as …

by Pointyhead on The Cake Edits Reality to Ignore the Everyday Consequences of Bible Belt Homophobia (Theater)

Oh, I'd be amused even without the in-jokes. These folks are having a great time, and the setting is transportive. …

by needsomeokra on Wants Upon a Time Is a Commedia Dell'arte Interrogation of What Happily Ever After Really Means (Theater)

The photo credit is incorrect. The photo was taken and edited by Areon Mobasher for Burning Coal Theatre Company. Please …

by Areon Mobasher on The Greeks Streamlines Sophocles’s Theban Trilogy Into Three Nimble, Strikingly Modern One-Acts (Theater)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation