‘Six Degrees’ is a surreal surprise


Tara Maginnis/ DVC Drama

Allen Miller dazzles in his role as Paul, the con artist Also pictured are Cassandra Grove, Séan Seviér and Andrew Jamshidi.

Allan Kew, Staff member

What is it in an experience, that defines us?

Such is the question in “Six Degrees of Separation,” a play written by John Guare and directed by Will Springhorn. In this dramatic re-creation of a 1980’s piece, a posh group of urbanites and New Yorkers are taken for a ride by an enchanting young con artist.

At one point, claiming to be the son of a famous actor and at another, the illegitimate son of a past mark, the young man, who may or may not be named Paul, maneuvers his way from person to person. He plays off their desires and ideas of which he has knowledge of and ultimately uses this knowledge for disturbing reasons that are unknown.

The strongest suit in the play’s arsenal are the characters, and therein the actors, who successfully communicate to each other their sheer lack of understanding the experiences that have transpired in their lives.

For some actors, the role they play is too far out of reality for the audience to fully connect to, and thus allows for the play’s twists and turns to truly stun the audience when they react in unpredictable ways to the inflicting experiences they share.

However, characters that do connect to the audience face uncertain futures and even doom when encountering Paul, leaving the audience with tragic foreknowledge and gripping them with the hope that things will be alright.

So striking are the roles played that in some parts it is remarkably difficult to know what is true and false. A choice must be made by the characters and the audience: how much of the story are we willing to believe?

The play’s direction is also strong. It involved many notable ideas and concepts that highlight that time period’s lavish lifestyles, and other settings that blend to create the show’s set.

Not only is the set expansive in its use of a “second floor,” but the nature of the set in itself also reflects the surreal living quality of the tale.

Not a single set change, not a single prop addition, nor the intermission–included dead space. Each contains actors who progress the tale with unwritten dialogues and scenes, or with imaginative, moving set-actors who fill the stage with more scenery and life at the same time. It is a choice that successfully continues to add to the audience’s experience.

Indeed, by the end of this tale, you will question who you are separated from, and what those fleeting experiences you’ve shared with people, truly mean.

“Six Degrees of Separation” runs through May 11.