REVIEW: SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION The Old Vic, Waterloo
TWO STAR RATING JOHN Guare s 1990 play won stacks of awards and introduced us to the rather empty pop philosophy that we are all just six removes from everyone on the planet. But despite fine performances,
SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION
The Old Vic, Waterloo
TWO STAR RATING
JOHN Guare's 1990 play won stacks of awards and introduced us to the rather empty pop philosophy that we are all just six removes from everyone on the planet.
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But despite fine performances, David Grindley's slick revival doesn't emotionally connect because Guare's characters are either under drawn, unlikeable or unknowable.
This tale of wealthy, materialistic New York art dealers, mired in debt and targeted by a con man who fakes a celebrity connection to inveigle his way into their home ought to be as relevant as when Guare wrote it - during the last boom and bust cycle.
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But the flashy, quick jump style between comic one-liners, broad brush caricature and direct audience address, mitigates against audience involvement so the play feels at once too long (yawn) and too short to explore its overstacked themes.
Obi Abili is by turns charismatic and moving as Paul, the homeless, gay, black boy who desperately craves a privileged life and concocts both Harvard credentials and a famous dad (Sydney Poitier) to con his way in.
Lesley Manville heroically wrings some heart from the thinly-drawn Ouisa Kittredge, whose connection with Paul's imagination and potential shines a light on the sterility of her own life.
Guare is getting at all sorts of things here - the limits of middle-class liberalism, the horrendous self-involvement of the privileged (the Kittredge's Ivy League-educated offspring are spoiled and hateful), our obsession with celebrity and the gulf, rather than connection, between people: parents and children, white and black, haves and have-nots.
But this is all so much noise if it's not anchored to credibly realised characters.
Until April 3.