Six Degrees of Separation
By Tony Schillaci and Don Church
To enrich Bridgeport’s cultural life with an “eclectic variety of live stage entertainment and arts education at an affordable cost,” the Playhouse on the Green on State Street opened its first play of the ‘Spring into Summer’ season with John Guare’s witty, gritty Six Degrees of Separation.
The 1990 winner of the New York Drama Critics and Obie awards is based on a true story about a young, handsome gay con-man who charms his way into the lives of wealthy New Yorkers by claiming that he’s the son of actor Sidney Poitier.
The show was presented May 9 -18, which is unfortunate; a longer run would have gotten word out to more theater goers, including the gay community, and the players would have had more time to take the rough edges off their performances.
They came on overacting and speaking their lines too quickly in an effort to ‘grab’ the audience. A beat or two slower – verbally and physically, and a few degrees more voice production would have produced better technical and artistic results. They did, however, improve as the play unfolded.
There are many gay references - a simulated bj scene, a gay suicide, and the main character of Paul (likeably played by Khalil Muhammad) is homosexual. Playwright Gare and director Matt Schicker deserve credit for not making the part of Paul a stereotypical gay character.
Although an award-winning show, some of the dialogue sounds dated and false today. The glib bigotry of the rich, city-dwelling couple might have gotten nervous laughter back then, but now it only seems to point out that cultural and financial divides between the rich and the poor is no longer a laughing matter.
This jewel-box of a theater retrofitted from a handsome old building, has 228 seats with unobstructed sight lines, and is a bargain at $20 to $23 dollars a ticket. Given a chance to build an audience through the capable leadership of Producing Artistic Director, Matt Schicker, the theater will be a leading player in downtown Bridgeport’s revitalization.
The next show at Playhouse on the Green (www.playhouseonthegreen.org) will be Barnum - The Musical, June 13-22. We suggest spending an evening or matinee with Bridgeport’s P. T. Barnum, the legendary impresario.
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(This review will be published in Metroline News Magazine, May 30, 2008)