Six Degrees of Separation

Play by John Guare. When Ouisa and Flan Kittredge let an injured young man into their home in the middle of the night, they open the door on a new and enticing world. But is it really what it seems? John Guare's witty play scratches beneath the surface of a world obsessed with money and fame - how can anyone be sure that people are who they say they are? Inspired by the real life story of a flamboyant con artist who convinced wealthy residents in Manhattan that he was the son of actor Sidney Poitier, the play is a captivating study of society's pretensions exposed by one man's self-confidence and imagination.

1992: West End London Premiere at the Royal Court and Comedy Theatres

2010: 1st West End London Revival at the Old Vic Theatre


1992: West End London Premiere

Previewed 11 June 1992, Opened 18 June 1992, Closed 1 August 1992 at the Royal Court Theatre
Previewed 5 August 1992, Opened 12 August 1992, Closed 28 November 1992 at the Comedy Theatre (now Harold Pinter Theatre)

The cast at London's Royal Court Theatre and the West End's Comedy Theatre featured Adrian Lester as 'Paul', Stockard Channing as 'Ouisa Kittredge', Paul Shelley as 'Flan Kittredge', Ian Dunn as 'Rick'/'Policeman', Zaraa Turner as 'Elizabeth', Andrew Muir as 'Ben', Barry Stanton as 'Larkin', Caroline Catz as 'Tess', David Groves as 'Woody', Deborah Norton as 'Kitty', Gary Waldhorn as 'Detective'/'Geoffrey', Glenn Hugill as 'Doug', John Grillo as 'Doorman'/'Dr Fine', John Padden as 'Trent', and Mark Bowden as 'Hustler'.

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd, with designs by Mark Thompson, lighting by Rick Fisher, and sound by Bryan Bowen.


2010: 1st West End London Revival

Previewed 7 January 2010, Opened 19 January 2010, Closed 3 April 2010 at the Old Vic Theatre

A major revival of John Guare's play Six Degrees of Separation in London starring Anthony Head, Lesley Manville, and Obi Abili

The cast featured Obi Abili as 'Paul', Anthony Head as 'Ouisa Kittredge', Lesley Manville as 'Flan Kittredge', Luke Neal as 'Rick', Sarah Goldberg as 'Elizabeth', Ian Redford as 'Geoffrey', Ilan Goodman as 'Doug', John Moraitis as 'Detective', Kevin Kiely as 'Hustler'/'Policeman', Kevin Trainor as 'Trent', Michael Goldsmith as 'Ben', Paul Stocker as 'Woody', Sara Stewart as 'Kitty', Stephen Greif as 'Doorman'/'Dr Fine', Steven Pacey as 'Larkin', and Zoe Boyle as 'Tess'.

Directed by David Grindley, with designs by Jonathan Fensom, lighting by Jason Taylor, and sound by Gregory Clarke.

PLEASE NOTE: This production contains nudity. The age recommendation is 14+ (at the discretion of the parent/guardian).

Anthony Head's London theatre credits include Otherwise Engaged (Criterion Theatre 2005), the role of 'The Pirate King' in The Pirates of Penzance (Savoy Theatre 2004) and the role of 'Captain Hook' in Peter Pan (Savoy Theatre 2003).

Lesley Manville's London theatre credits include All About My Mother (Old Vic Theatre 2007) and Some Girls (Gielgud Theatre 2005).

"In David Grindley's admirably slick, quick production, Paul (a magnetic Obi Abili) charms his way into the house of art dealer Flan (Anthony Head) and his wife Ouisa (Lesley Manville)... Paul ultimately holds a mirror up to white middle-class American neurosis over race, homosexuality and, if you want to get really pretentious about it, fear of the other. Yet while Guare's play largely transcends its 1980s Manhattan setting, it feels a bit schematic. And while his meaty, light-footed script overflows with ideas and smart, deflective humour, his characterisation is skittish. Manville embodies a brittle, sorrowful loneliness but Grindley's production struggles to find much emotional purchase. For all Abili's muscular, detailed performance, the one character that should matter most remains the most elusive." The London Metro

"'There are two sides to every story,' says a character in Six Degrees Of Separation, John Guare's 1990 play about a gutsy young charmer who learns to say the right things, and effortlessly cons Manhattan's elite into believing that he's Sidney Poitier's son... Not surprisingly, however, it doesn't take long to discover that Poitier didn't have any sons, and the conman is rumbled. But - and I imagine this is the play's point - not before he has, in turn, rumbled his victims as snobbish, vain, celebrity-obsessed philistines. The problem is that Guare touches on far too much - the transforming power of the imagination, the (absurd) theory that everybody is separated by only six people - too sketchily and dizzyingly. I would have liked more layers. What, for instance, was Paul's game? To beguile, to belong or to belittle? Instead of being taken on an enlightening journey, the play made my head spin - like the Kandinsky." The Mail on Sunday

"John Guare's play, based on the true story of a charismatic youth who inveigles his way into the lives of a smart Manhattan couple by pretending to be the son of Sidney Poitier, was made into a 1993 film starring Stockard Channing and Donald Sutherland. Shorn of these two engaging stars and Jerry Goldsmith's stylish score, David Gindley's stage production is, alas, a strangely laborious affair... It is, however, Obi Abili, in the pivotal role of the society conman, who proves the play's undoing: he simply hasn't the 'elegance' about him that the couple talk about, and this makes it hard to understand how he could pull off such an audacious deception." The Sunday Telegraph

Six Degrees of Separation in London at the Old Vic Theatre previewed from 7 January 2010, opened on 19 January 2010, and closed on 3 April 2010.