I'm a Little Pickled Theatre Co.
Six Degrees of Separation

Date 12 February 2005, 8pm Venue Presentation House, North Vancouver

Reviewer John Jane


 

 

 

 

 


David Mubanda
David Mubanda is Paul

The title Six Degrees of Separation refers to the theory that we are all separated from everyone else by six or fewer stages of circumstance or acquaintance. It is an entirely appropriate title for the play, since the essential theme of connections (human and telephone) are integral to the plot.

John Guare’s title, which has even pervaded the North American lexicon, was made into a successful film starring the young Will Smith a few years ago. Some lifestyle magazines frequently publish elaborate flow charts indicating points of contact between certain celebrities.

The plot revolves around Paul, a gay black man, and the degrees of separation between him and Flan and Ouisa Kittridge (Michael Robinson and Brenda Matthews) a Manhattan couple who deal in high-end art. Paul (David Mubanda) literally stumbles into the couple’s apartment just as they are in the process of closing an important art deal with Geoffrey, a wealthy South African entrepreneur.

Ostensibly the victim of a Central Park mugging, Paul first draws sympathy, then upon claiming a connection to the Kittridge's children, combined with his fine cooking, brilliant monologue on his stolen thesis, and a vague promise of a part for all in his father's (American actor, Sidney Poitier) new film“ Cats, wins over not only Flan and Ouisa but Geoffrey as well.

Next morning however, Paul is thrown out of the Kittridge's apartment when Ouisa discovers Paul in bed with a "rent boy." From this point the magnitude and cataclysmic effect of his lying gradually unfold.


 

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None of the characters in the play are particularly sympathetic with the possible exceptions of Ouisa and the enigmatic Paul, who develop an oddly tender relationship, never fully developed under Michael Robinson’s direction.

While the cast overall is solid, Brenda Matthews as Ouisa is this production's heart and soul. Her portrayal of a pampered trophy wife caring only about maintaining her extravagant lifestyle transforming into an altruistic mother figure is praiseworthy.

Newcomer David Mubanda’s Paul doesn’t quite have the impact of Matthews’s character and his references to the power of imagination during the recitation of Salinger's Catcher in the Rye are not delivered with the authority that convey their importance to the audience.

The intimate North Vancouver venue is perfectly suited for this coup de theatre. The proximity of the audience to the stage offers an extra dimension of connectedness with the players and the boundary between the audience and cast members made even more transparent with off-stage actors occupying the front row.

Nicholas Palinka’s minimalist set recreates the Kittridge apartment that consists only of two red leather sofas, a small table and a double-sided Wassily Kandinsky abstract painting providing a kind of symbolic reference to the play’s message of needing to see both sides of any situation.

The play is certainly a potent mix of tragic, comic, and the occasionally farcical with the resulting intensity bringing out a collective outstanding performance by this small theatre group.

2005 John Jane

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