By Delaney Hildreth —
John Guare’s play “Six Degrees of Separation” opened at the Playhouse Feb. 20 as the fifth play in the Department of Theatre Arts’ “A Season of Black Plays.”
The play follows the chain of events set off by a young man named Paul who scams people by telling them he’s the son of famous actor Sidney Poitier. It takes place in the 90s, but it still includes relevant issues such as socioeconomic differences and racial tensions.
Jordan Tudor Haggard, a graduate student pursuing her MFA in performance, plays Ouisa Kittredge while Zachary Stone, a senior theatre major, plays Haggard’s husband, Flan Kittredge.
“I think this play is important because it deals with race and class relations. The couple at the beginning of the play are oblivious to anyone that is not like them and they do not understand the struggles lower class people have. Ouisa has an epiphany halfway through the play that she is connected to everyone on the planet and that we all need to be there for one another. We are all responsible for each other, in a way, and it is good to remember that,” said Haggard.
Paul, played by second-year graduate student Tyler Tate, charms the couple with his stories during the evening, but in the morning, they figure out he has conned them. The conman’s identity only gets more confusing as Ouisa and Flan track down others who have been scammed by him.
The pacing is steady at first, but it picks up quickly as more unexpected things begin to happen. Strong performances from all the cast make this play entertaining and memorable.
Haggard was wonderful as the leading lady who took the audience through both the funniest and most thought-provoking scenes. Stone provided both reassurance and conflict to Ouisa as the story progressed.
Tate was enrapturing with his charming, goofy and intelligent portrayal of Paul and his ability to portray the complexities of his character with ease.
Even smaller parts, like senior Chasidy Moore and sophomore Thomas Simpson as Ouisa and Flan’s unpleasant children and junior graduate student Manuel Viveros’ brief but hilarious role as a hustler are fun and memorable.
“Six Degrees of Separation” is a cleverly written show and narration intersects with dialogue to make scenes flow naturally from one to the next. Through this unique writing style, the audience gains access to the thoughts of characters as they make thoughtful, witty and sometimes incredibly important observations on their situation that adds philosophical value to the play.
Photo by Delaney Hildreth // The Louisville Cardinal