What would you do if a finely-dressed young black man turns up at your Manhattan apartment soaked in blood? He's been mugged, he knows your children (they went to Harvard together), he knows your name, he claims to be the son of Sidney Poitier. You help him of course. But will you live to regret it?
John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation was first performed in New York in 1990. At the time headlines suggested the play packed a powerful punch, hailing it as a modern classic and I can see why. The piece is sharply written and often very funny, although twenty years on, it's aged a little.
That shouldn't put you off though, as David Grindley's clever production picks up momentum half way through and delivers a pleasing 90 minutes. The tale of a con man, desperate to fit into Manhattan's elite, deals with racism and snobbery incredibly well.
Obi Abili (pictured right) excels as the charismatic trickster Paul. The young RADA graduate captures well his charm and appeal, yet upholding the character's dangerous edge. We can understand why Ouisa (played by the elegant Lesley Manville) finds it difficult to forget him, and eventually succumbs to helping him, but is it too late?
Anthony Head's portrayal as the “Never bull-shit a bull shitter” Art Dealer Flan, is particularly impressive. He manages to capture his slick and wealth-driven grotesqueness, in many ways proving that he is no different to the con-artist Paul. The ironic point being, Paul is perhaps more of a victim than he is.