The West Coast premiere of the Steppenwolf Theatre Production of “Slowgirl,” currently at the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse, accomplishes one part of its title very right — slow. Sound designer Richard Woodbury’s chirping birds and scenic designer Takeshi Kata’s adaptable shack set nail the languid mood and unhurried pacing of a tropical cabin in Costa Rica. No trace of any metropolitan rush-rush hustle and bustle here!
This 90-minute intermission-less piece (written by Greg Pierce) depicts the weeklong visit of Becky (Rae Gray) with her Uncle Sterling (William Petersen). Becky’s mom (Sterling’s sister) thought Becky could use a change of scenery from being literally locked up (possibly under house arrest) after the 17-year-old came under suspicion of having something to do with her mentally challenged classmate (the Slowgirl) leaping out of a second-story window.
As directed by Geffen Artistic Director Randall Arney, Gray amps up Becky’s teenage angst and annoyingness to the max, while Petersen internalizes most of his character’s despair with sporadic bursts of frustration. From all facts disclosed, Sterling has given up on life after being accused and then acquitted of embezzlement, losing his law firm partnership and having his wife walk out on him.
Unfortunately, neither of the characters in this two-person drama evokes any sympathy or exhibits any personality traits to root for. When the big reveal of the tragic incident’s actual details comes to light, no satisfaction results — except for the shared desire with Becky to get off this languorous island.
—Gil Kaan, Culture Spot LA
Performances continue through April 27 at the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., LA 90024. Show times are Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. For tickets, visit http://www.geffenplayhouse.com or call (310) 208-5454.