Where’s the Bacon?

Abbie Vansickle

Six Degrees of Separation” is a story of dysfunctional families, Upper East Side art dealers and the ties that bind them all together.

The Theatre and Interpretation Center’s production of John Guare’s farcical play, which opens Friday in the Barber Theatre, takes its title from the idea that everyone on the planet is separated from every other person by no more than six people. The social comedy begins as the seemingly simple story of Flan and Ouisa Kittredge, two wealthy New York art dealers with a passion for high stakes and rare paintings.

This lifestyle is not without its drawbacks, however. The Kittredges, played by Speech senior Mat McKenna and Speech senior Morgan Reis, barely know their children. This becomes obvious one night when a wounded young man stumbles into their apartment as they’re about to close an art deal with a South African revolutionary.

The young man, Paul, claims to be a friend of their two children. The Kittredges immediately question him about the kids, eager to learn about the teenagers they haven’t really talked to since sending them to boarding school years ago.

Paul, played by Speech senior Ebs Burnough, tells the Kittredges everything they want to know about their children and discloses to Flan and Ouisa that he is the son of black movie star Sidney Poitier, winning his way into hearts of the couple.

The couple’s easy acceptance of Paul illustrates the complex way relationships work in the play, said director Bud Beyer.

“(The Kittredges) represent a skew in prioritization,” Beyer said. “They don’t know their children and they’re not interested. Yet, they easily accept this stranger into their home.”

The Kittredges then begin to doubt the truth of Paul’s identity, leading them to some startling revelations about themselves and their children.

“I didn’t know this play before … but in reading it, I found it to be a wonderful roller coaster of relationships,” Beyer said.

Beyer said he hopes the audience will be intrigued by the show and the ideas it raises.

Moving from a realistic portrayal of urban elite to an Agatha Christie-esque mystery filled with spinning double-sided Wassily Kandinsky paintings representing both the chaos and control of human life, “Six Degrees of Separation” recognizes the complexity of human life and raises more questions than it answers, Beyer said.

“We often dismiss so easily that which is closest to us, choosing that which is strange and new,” he said. “I hope the audience comes away with questions. Why do we do that? Why are we prone to that? Why are we so easily moved by what is new?” nyou