High School Senior, Becky, makes a long trek through the jungle to visit her Uncle Sterling in his remote Costa Rican home. The visit has little to do with the fact that she hasn’t seen him in far too many years and much more to do with the trouble she has found herself in at home. She’s been shipped off for a week while the dust settles around her involvement in a teenage party prank gone very, terribly wrong. Sterling has been more than a bit reclusive over the last handful of years dodging his own troubles back in the states. As the 90-minute show progresses, we witness the falling away of the layers of their troubling stories as the awkward duo challenge and support each other. Ultimately, finding the courage to move forward, together.
There are plenty of reasons to run to the Geffen Theatre so see Greg Pierce’s, Slowgirl. There are possibly equally as many reasons to skip the show. I suppose it would all depend on why you, personally, make the decision to attend the theatre.
Let’s focus on the positive…
First of all, the show features two pretty fabulous players on Stage. Rae Gray as Becky and William Petersen as Uncle Sterling… are fascinating to watch. If fantastic acting and magical chemistry are a turn on for you, Slowgirl is an easy choice. Another geeky reason to attend is playwright Greg Pierce’s phenomenally written dialogue… especially the 17-year-old teenager. If the rule of thumb is to write what you know, Pierce must have been a teenage girl several times over in his past lives. If you are a student of the theatre (and I don’t just mean the currently enrolled) this is a pretty great show, if for those two reasons alone. I also thoroughly enjoy that the relationship being explored is uncle/niece. Another example doesn’t come to mind, and it’s an intriguing relationship with endless possibilities.
The simple set (Takeshi Kata) and the jungle sounds (Richard Woodbury) all add to the well-told story. As nicely and naturally as I’ve seen. Director, Randall Arney, supports my theory that all artists coming from the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago are brilliant. This is the perfect piece of theatre. Kind of.
If you’ve been reading my reviews all along, many times I go back to the same question: So what? I believe a piece of theatre must pass the, “So what?” test to be considered a “successful” piece of theatre, in my mind. By that I mean, did the play mean anything to you? Were you entertained, enlightened? Do you see the world differently or did you laugh a lot? Were you disturbed, angered? I’d say positive or negative, as long as you don’t leave feeling neutral or opinionless… it’s a win.
For me personally, being the theatre geek/enthusiast that I am, I’d say for all the reasons listed above, I recommend checking out Slowgirl. But it doesn’t pass the “So what?” test in my mind. I was never bored during this slice-of-life piece, but I couldn’t tell you what my take away was… with the exception of: modern theatre, in general, doesn’t seem to be cutting it, and that as brilliant as Rae Gray is, I think she was miscast. (Sorry, that came out of left field: Rae Gray’s portrayal of Becky seemed like a troubled girl who would have a long list of predicaments she’d previously gotten out of vs. a popular girl to whom this party-gone-wrong experience was wholly new…she was just wrong in the role.)
In summary, true theatre fans, go see this show. There is MUCH to appreciate. Fair-weathered theatre people, step out of line and wait for the inevitable better choice coming around the corner.
Geffen Playhouse, Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater
10886 Le Conte Ave, Los Angeles
Tuesdays-Fridays 8 pm,
Saturdays 3 & 8 pm,
Sundays, 2 pm.
Thru April 27.
(310) 208-5454 or http://www.geffenplayhouse.com