★★★★☆ - Delicious
Remember the old 90’s party game where people tried to connect themselves to Kevin Bacon within six people? That game stemmed from John Guare’s Pulitzer Prize nominated play, “Six Degrees of Separation,” now playing the mainstage at Las Vegas Little Theater. The base concept is that everyone on the planet is connected by no more than six acquaintances.
Directing a large cast of fourteen actors playing a total of eighteen characters, in a stealthy bit of genius, Derek Charles Livingston adds another in the form of the stage itself. Designed and sparsely furnished by Ron Lindblom, it provides unusual distance between the living, breathing characters but augments the (erroneous) element of separation we all believe we have.
Angela Ray Clark (Ouisa) and Stephen McMillan (Flan) are conned by a young man named Paul (Dominc Lamont Graber-Pritchard) claiming to be the son of Sidney Poitier.
For much of the play Clark is interacting with Flan, and delivers Ouisa on one level. Particularly in the scenes where the two break the fourth wall and directly address the audience to explain their dilemma. Clark gets the titular monologue and I needed to pull myself back into the play when my mind wandered to the Kevin Bacon game. It’s not until later as she’s recognizing his potential and trying to save the young man from the jaws of the streets and prison that Clark finally makes me believe what she’s saying.
Flan is part con himself, and McMillan fares better as a more dimensional person. Flan works in the Black Market of the art world and McMillan brings forth the nervousness and excitement of a new deal on a Cézanne at the same time that he exudes fright over having been conned himself.
Nerissa Tedesco plays dual roles. First as Judith, a monied, white South African woman. Handcuffed by the Apartheid movement she’s eager to invest in the Black Market art world to free her money. Tedesco has trouble with the dialect, a hybrid of Aussie and Brit sounds, yet otherwise her characterization is solid. In her scenes as the detective searching for the young interloper, she’s perfectly no-nonsense. In both roles she moves with utter confidence.
In order to succeed in his con game, Paul needs to be charming and riveting, he should come across as someone we cannot help but watch and must hang on his every word. While we never get that level of magnetism from Graber-Pritchard he nevertheless holds his own, particularly when playing the pre-Poitier hustler.
Alex Goya has dual roles. His Doug is unremarkable, but he deserves props for appearing as the Hustler. With a perpetual smirk in his expression you can tell he’s having fun playing a male prostitute. John Eddy also carries the load of two characters. The script gives him more to work with as Rick, a poor sap from Utah who falls prey to Paul’s con. Eddy delivers a short but gut-wrenching monologue, every word and action believable.
Diana Anderson, Meghan Elizabeth, David Ament, Emily Ezelle, Rubi Chavarri, Matthew P. Fisher, Anthony Gomezm and Diana Martinez round out the mostly capable cast.
Lindblom’s set recreates a large brightly-colored Kandinsky to cover the upper portion of the upstage area and the (much-sought-after non-existent) double-sided one hangs from the grid stage left and rotates, all lit by Ginny Adams.
The devil is in the details. Rightly so, real food and drink are used in a dinner scene and, later, an actual book for reading from Sidney Poitier’s memoir. Sadly, in an earlier scene a book and a roll of gauze are mimed. While costumes are necessarily layered to affect changes in time and place, we get Ouisa lying down for the night in street clothes.
Overall, it’s a satisfying production that makes its point. Give it a shot. On the way home pick a name, and if you really think about it, you’ll connect yourself to that person within six degrees.
When: 8 p.m. Thursday - Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday through Nov 3
2 p.m. Saturday, Oct 26
Where: Las Vegas Little Theatre-Mainstage, 3920 Schiff drive
Tickets: $22 / $25 (702-362-7996; www.lvlt.org)
Producer: Las Vegas Little Theatre; Director: Derek Charles Livingston; Set Design: Ron Lindblom; Lighting Design: Ginny Adams; Sound Design: Lisa Tollefson; Costume Design: Stephanie Daniels; Stage Manager: James Braun