Alan Dale writes a comprehensive review of the play “Six Degrees of Separation” written by John Guare. Starting off with an objective, albeit, bland description of the play, Mr. Dale ends up superbly. The use of a double-sided painting in strikingly different styles symbolizes the contrasting condition of “chaos and control” in the lives of Flan and Ouisa Kittredge, the main characters (Dale 2004). Moreover, Mr. Dale looks into the persona of the writer, Mr. Guare, to analyze certain aspects of the play.
When Paul, the con-man who the Kittredges help but who somehow victimizes them in the end enters their lives, “chaos” reigned in their “controlled” life. Thus, the entire play is summed up by the interplay of “chaos and control” (Dale 2004). Ouisa finds out at the end that if the “control” in her life as her husband’s helpmate doesn’t survive an “intense incursion” which Paul causes, then the control doesn’t have any deep meaning at all. Ouisa’s control over her life as she knew it wasn’t real, but was in fact “chaos” which passes of as control because it dulls the realities in her life.
It was Paul who opened up this awareness in Ouisa, even though the gap he created between the Kittredges was unintentional. Ouisa developed a strong emotional attachment to Paul, despite the fact that he conned them. At some point in the play, Ouisa even envisioned a new means of “control” in her life by taking on Paul as an apprentice and asking him to be a permanent presence in their lives (Dale 2004). In contrast, Flan saw Ouisa’s idea as “chaos” (Dale 2004).
Hence, Mr. Guare was able to subtly imply that there were fissures in the marriage of Flan and Ouisa, brought about by Ouisa’s suppressed feeling that there was a lack of meaning in her life (Dale 2004). It is important to note that the play – especially Ouisa’s character — could have been “Six Degrees of Separation” 3 influenced by Adele Chatfield-Taylor Guare, the writer’s wife (Dale 2004). Mrs. Guare was reportedly able to remain calm and poised even under even the most agonizing circumstances (Dale 2004).
Nevertheless, Mrs. Guare was said to have been unusually successful in her administration of the American Academy in Rome, of which she was president for an extended period. Ouisa’s striking monologue in the play saying that each person is separated by only six other people – six degrees – may be attributed to Mrs. Guare’s statement that for her, design is a “tool for knitting together a fragmenting culture (Dale 2004)”.
In essence, Mr. Dale explains that Ouisa’s transformation in the play is Mr. Guare’s own resolution of his inner conflicts. Mr. Guare’s rescue of Ouisa’s character is possible a way of showing deference to his wife, Adele (Dale 2004). Mr. Dale’s review gives the reader a deep insight into a plot which is implied only in the play. In watching the movie, one may get captivated by the actors, thus preventing the viewer from understanding what the underlying message of the play truly is. Mr. Dale’s review shows that he has studied the play intently by coming up with the concept of “chaos and control”.
Ouisa said in the movie that it is very comforting that it takes only six people to separate us from the next person. All that we need is for us to find the correct people, to know how we are connected to the person next to us. Although this thought is beautiful, it is somehow incomprehensible because of its grandness. However, Mr. Dale’s simple analysis of “chaos and control” brings the play to a more realistic level. It is something which we can apply in our daily lives, and something to inspire us as we tread the roads of everyday living.