When a young and effortlessly charismatic black con man claiming to be the son of Sidney Poitier himself smiles his way into the sympathetic living rooms of a few of New York City’s white wealthy elite, and tears a swath of disillusionment through their preconceptions and comfortable lives, the thirst for understanding leaves them questioning their sense of selves. Ouisa and Flan, the play’s central duo and two married art dealers, find themselves victims of a strange invasion after offering a young man, who appears to have been mugged in Central Park, shelter in their apartment. He tells them he knows their children from Harvard, and so begins an evening that captivates the older wealthy couple, eager to embrace the promise of an intelligent, provocative young person who also happens to stroke their egos and reinforce their sense of good personhood. Six Degrees of Separation stunningly demonstrates the way each person’s individual vision of the world, limited by our desire to control how we ourselves are seen, leaves us prey to the manipulations and nuance of human design at play all around us. With split-second transitions narrated anecdotally by the characters that piece together a whirlwind of vignettes, John Guare’s work takes the audience on a stark and breathtaking ride through the connection and disconnection between humans from all walks of life confronting the question of honest identity.
Six Degrees of Separation guide sections