Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay


Six Degrees of Separation
Custom Made Theatre Co.
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Richard's reviews of Elect to Laugh: 2016, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, and The Last Five Years, Patrick's reviews of West Side Story and Dancing at Lughnasa, and Eddie's review of Grey Matter


Khary Moye and Genevieve Perdue
Photo by Jay Yamada
Custom Made Theatre Co. is presenting a sharp production of John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation, a play that was first staged in the Mitzi Newhouse Theatre at Lincoln Center in 1990. I saw that production with John Cunningham and Stockard Channing as the art dealer and his wife and James McDaniel as the "son" of Sidney Poitier. Frank Rich raved in the New York Times, "Transcendent magical, a masterwork" and I agree with him. I reviewed the SF Playhouse production almost nine years ago and once again found it to be a masterwork. The Custom Made production is also a marvelous production with splendid acting and direction.

Six Degrees of Separation is a clever, funny, and briefly touching drama about a con artist who claims to be the son of Sidney Poitier. John Guare based his play on a real case in the 1980s in which a young black man charmed himself into the lives and lavish apartments of wealthy New Yorkers with the claim that he was the son of the black film icon.

Wealthy art dealer Flan (Matt Weimer) and his wife Ouisa (Genevieve Perdue), who own a real Kandinsky painting, are over impressed with fame and affluence that treats the work of great painters merely as product. The eloquent trickster Paul (Khary Moye) suddenly comes into their life accidentally by a means I won't divulge. Watching this articulate con man seducing his victims is stunning. The play keeps us on the edge of our seats for 90 minutes.

Khary Moye is outstanding as Paul. He is sensual, confident, and cunning with an edge of both neediness and endangerment. It's a tour de force of acting. Genevieve Perdue gives a beautiful performance as Ouisa. She perfectly captures the growth of the character from a manipulative Fifth Avenue hostess to a woman yearning to make sense of her involvement with Paul. Matt Weimer gives an impressive performance as Flan.

Kyle Goldman rocks as the hustler in the first act and morphs marvelously into Woody the son of Flan. Sam Bertken and Alisha Ehrlich as the naïve young couple from Utah on their first visit to the big city are charming. Brian Levi, Carl Luciana, Kathleen McHatton, Kyle McReddie, Kelly Rinehart, and Karl Schackne make up the rest of the cast playing various roles. All are excellent.

Stuart Bousel's stylish direction is prevalent in this production. Ryan Martin's set is a fashionable Fifth Avenue apartment with the painting front and center. Brooke Jennings' costumes include chic outfits for these folks who live on Fifth Avenue.

Six Degrees of Separation plays through June 18th, 2016, at the Custom Made Theatre Co., 530 Sutter Street, San Francisco. For tickets www.custommade.org.


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