By John Guare
Directed by Trip Cullman
Allison Janney, John Benjamin Hickey, Corey Hawkins, Tony Carlin, Michael Countryman, James Cusati-Moyer, Ned Eisenberg, Lisa Emery, Keenan Jolliff, Peter Mark Kendall, Cody Kostro, Sarah Mezzanotte, Colby Minifie, Paul O’Brien, Chris Perfetti, Ned Riseley, Michael Siberry
Scenic Design: Mark Wendland
Costume Design: Clint Ramos
Lighting Design: Ben Stanton
Sound Design: Darron L West
Projection Design: Lucy Mackinnon
First Performance April 5, 2017
Opening April 25, 2017
Final Performance June 18, 2017
Submit a review for Six Degrees of Separation
Seven-time Emmy® Award winner ALLISON JANNEY (“Mom,” “The West Wing”), Tony Award® winner JOHN BENJAMIN HICKEY (The Normal Heart, “The Big C”) and COREY HAWKINS (“24: Legacy,” Straight Outta Compton) star in John Guare’s SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION, on Broadway for 15 weeks only.
Inspired by a true story, this critically acclaimed play follows the trail of a mysterious young con man who insinuates himself into the lives of a wealthy New York couple, claiming he’s the son of actor Sidney Poitier. After a shocking surprise, the couple tries to piece together the connections that brought him into their world.
Winner of the 1991 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award and the 1993 Olivier Award for Best New Play, John Guare’s SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION was also a finalist for the 1991 Tony Award for Best Play. Trip Cullman directs this strictly limited Broadway engagement.
Inspired by a true story, the play follows the trail of a young con man, Paul (Hawkins), who insinuates himself into the lives of a wealthy New York couple, Ouisa and Flan Kittredge (Janney and Hickey), saying he knows their son at college.
Claiming he’s the son of actor Sidney Poitier, Paul tells them he has just been mugged and all his money is gone. Captivated by Paul’s intelligence (and the possibility of appearing in his father’s new movie), the Kittredges invite him to stay overnight.
After finding him in bed with a hustler (Cusati-Moyer), their picture of Paul changes, and Ouisa and Flan turn detective trying to piece together the connections that gave him access to their lives. Meanwhile, Paul’s cons unexpectedly lead him into darker territory as his lies begin to catch up with him.
Ben Brantley – New York Times
Equal parts radiance and shadow, Mr. Hawkins transforms a fatally mixed-up character into something close to a tragic hero. With this production, directed by Trip Cullman, Paul takes his place more fully as one of the great pretenders, or less-than-great Gatsbys, who populate Mr. Guare’s work — the ravenously aspirational outsiders in a culture that worships wealth and celebrity.
Marilyn Stasio – Variety
Despite the vitalizing presence of Allison Janney in director Trip Cullman’s elegant revival, “Six Degrees of Separation” lacks the comic bite of the original production. In its time, John Guare’s 1990 social satire about New York sophisticates who are duped by a young black con man was an amusing embarrassment for the city’s various tribes of arty intelligentsia. (The story was based on a true incident.) Today, with social barriers considerably more fluid, the con seems quaint. Were sophisticated New Yorkers ever that gullible?
Jeremy Gerard – Deadline
On the evidence of the spectacular revival that opened tonight at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, with a cast led by Allison Janney (Mom, The West Wing), Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton) and John Benjamin Hickey (The Normal Heart), either it’s been a very long moment that Guare captured. Or, more likely, Six Degrees transcends its particulars and addresses something ineffably human: The terrifying gulf between how we see ourselves and how we need others to see us. That’s a theme for the ages, from Moliere to Arthur Miller to Tony Kushner. Guare, however, using a brief, intriguing newspaper report as his jumping off point, found a way in Six Degrees to make us laugh in the face of our own insufficiency in bridging that midnight-dark gulf.
Melissa Rose Bernardo – Entertainment Weekly
As for the rest of Guare’s delicious social satire, it’s aged nearly as well as the Cats quips — far better than you’d expect, considering that the title phrase is now firmly entrenched in our vernacular. “I am bound to everyone on this planet by a trail of six people,” says Ouisa. “It’s a profound thought.” (Side note: Does anyone still play the resultant pop-culture parlor game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”?)
Joe Dziemianowicz – NY Daily News
Broadway’s crazy good revival of “Six Degrees of Separation” is proof of theater’s enduring impact. Even if you’ve never seen John Guare’s smart, juicy and still-potent 1990 comedy — or the film version — you probably know the meaning of the title. You’ve likely used it in conversation.
Matthew Murray – Talkin’ Broadway
You’d think such weight would pose insoluble problems for major productions, but judging by Trip Cullman’s new revival at the Ethel Barrymore, that’s not at all the case. Inextricably tied to early 1990s Manhattan society, politics, and notions of sexuality though it is, Six Degrees of Separation remains robust in its demands that we consider the impact of personal and communal isolation in every aspect of the world in which we live. Experience, it argues, is worth nothing if all we take away from it is an anecdote and we don’t allow it to change us. And since in our present age so much of our lives are on the Internet, which is governed by rapid-fire sound and video bites, short Facebook updates, and briefer-still tweets, don’t we need this message now more than ever?
Mark Shenton – The Stage
The sophistication of the setting is complemented by the casting of the supremely stylish stage and TV actor Allison Janney. Her performance is a lesson in perfectly manicured manners. She is well partnered by John Benjamin Hickey, as the urbane Flan. But the revelation is rising actor Corey Hawkins’ performance as the interloper Paul. He brings an innocence to character that makes his lie feel plausible.
Robert Hofler – The Wrap
The good news on the Broadway revival of “Six Degrees of Separation” is great news. Twenty-seven years after the debut of John Guare’s comedy of manners and mores in Manhattan, “Six Degrees” retains its place as one of the great American plays of the late 20th century.
David Rooney – The Hollywood Reporter
The 2011 Broadway revival of The House of Blue Leaves was too unbalanced to do the job, but Trip Cullman’s razor-sharp staging of Six Degrees of Separation serves as a welcome reminder of the fiercely intelligent, pungently funny voice of playwright John Guare at his vintage best. The thoroughbred Allison Janney stars as Ouisa Kittredge, a well-heeled Manhattan WASP who dreams in dollar signs until a beguiling young African-American trickster, imbued with both obfuscation and naked yearning by Corey Hawkins, exposes her to the spiritual emptiness beneath her complacent sophistication. While those two sensational performances occupy the play’s molten center, the entire large ensemble that surrounds them is on fire.
Jonathan Mandell – DC Theatre Scene
The play was also given the 1991 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. But that was a quarter century ago. The new production, still set in the 1980s, feels dated, and not just because of some now-obscure 1980s references. Even the most privileged amongst theatergoers are no longer necessarily drawn to a world on stage that takes privilege as a given — everybody’s assumed point of view — even if that privilege is subtly mocked. On the most practical level, the play is dated because the specific scam is far less likely to happen in the age of Google.