Six Degrees of Separation

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A: John Guare Pf: 1990, New York Pb: 1990 G: Drama in 1 act S: East Side, New York, c.1990 C: 14m, 4fJohn Flanders (‘Flan’) Kittredge (44), an attractive New York art dealer, and his wife Louisa (‘Ouisa’), about to go to dinner with a South African friend, are surprised by the arrival of Paul, a young black, who has just been mugged in Central Park. Paul claims to be a fellow student of their children at Harvard and to be the son of Sidney Poitier. The Kittredges awake to find that Paul has brought a hustler into their apartment; they are disgusted, and throw Paul and the hustler out. They meet friends who have had exactly the same experience. All efforts to contact Sidney Poitier fail, and, since nothing was stolen, the police are not interested. A Dr Fine has also been taken in by the charming Paul, and the Kittredges discover that Poitier never had a son. Tess, the Kittredge's daughter, establishes that a homosexual high-school classmate had an affair with Paul and told him details of the families. Paul, a poor black hustler, resolved to infiltrate the best homes in New York. Ouisa reflects that there are at most only six degrees of separation between us and everybody else on this planet. Paul cons a young couple from Utah and sleeps with the man, who commits suicide. Now in serious trouble, Paul phones Ouisa and begs her to treat him as her son. Ouisa tells him to give himself up, and promises to help him. Before they can get to him, the police arrest him, and, since Ouisa does not know his real identity, the authorities are unable to trace him. But Flan is convinced he will find them again.

A: John Guare Pf: 1990, New York Pb: 1990 G: Drama in 1 act S: East Side, New York, c.1990 C: 14m, 4f

John Guare, writer of a number of award-winning dramas, to some extent reprising the theme of Shaw's Pygmalion, in this his most popular play offers an amusing, fluid, and perceptive analysis of the cultured rich of New York, the emptiness of their lives and their guilt, and reminds us that there are hardly any degrees of separation between them and the poorest people on the planet.

Subjects: Theatre — Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).

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