|Sarah Steele and Zeljko Ivanek. Photo: Erin Baiano|
By Lauren Yarger
Greg Pierce's new play Slowgirl getting a run at Lincoln Center Theater's new Off-Broadway LCT3 stage also gives us a new way to look at communications and relations between generations and people who don't have a whole lot in common.
The problem isn't so new, however. Becky, a young teen (Sarah Steele), has gotten into some trouble at school and escapes by flying to the jungle doorstep (well, actually, there aren't any doors, she discovers to her horror) of her uncle Sterling (Zeljko Ivanek), whom she hasn't seen since his wife left him and he he left the US years ago for the forests of Costa Rica (represented by green wooden slats surrounding the hut-like structure designed by Rachel Hauck. Sound Designer Leah Gelpe provides jungle ambiance.)
The effervescent Becky is a sharp contrast to the meek Sterling, for whom doing eye-muscle exercises is a highlight of the day. It seems almost painful for him to contribute to the conversation, but Becky's prowess for long motor-mouth, profanity-laden passages in which she seems oblivious to Sterling's being in the room quickly fills the gap. Becky enjoys getting some of the stress over her situation off her chest -- no one back home believes her version of the situation, that it turns out, might land her in jail. The more she reveals details about a party in which she and her friends abused a mentally-challenged classmate they call Slowgirl who was seriously injured, the harder it is for Sterling to believe her either.
He tries to provide comfort by sharing his hospitality, a sympathetic ear and hope through spiritual focus. Hauck's set lifts to reveal a labyrinth which Sterling has constructed and the scene where Becky is just not able to embrace the "silent" contemplation part of their walk is a hoot. Meanwhile, Becky discovers that Sterling has some skeletons in his own closet and that the self-induced exile in the jungle which has kept him from spending time with the sister with whom he used to be very close and his niece might be because he is avoiding the law as well.
As the two people desperately in need of someone in their corner allow each other into their private worlds, a bond of friendship is formed during the week-long visit. It's a nice blend of nicely developed characters, a plot that isn't predictable and strong performances in the two-hander ably directed by Anne Kauffman.
Slowgirl runs through Aug. 5 at The Claire Tow Theater (on the roof of the Beaumont, 150 West 65 St., NYC). Tickets and info: http://www.lct.org/index_lct3.htm
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