"Slowgirl" (Steppenwolf Theatre): Heartfelt Connectivity

"Slowgirl" (Steppenwolf Theatre):  Heartfelt Connectivity

Steppenwolf Theatre presents SLOWGIRL.

An uncle and his niece reunite in the middle of a jungle. Playwright Greg Pierce uses an exotic locale for an unexpected family meet up. Sterling and Becky haven’t seen each other in years. Now, they are forced to live in the same hut and figure out what’s really going on. Pierce throws two troubled and different people into solitary confinement. They are all alone but together. The plot unfolds like a twisted origami flower. The twosome delicately pulls back the layered paper until the audience is left with a smoothed out rumpled paper. The thought-provoking ending satisfies and intrigues. I want an epilogue.

Under the direction of Randal Arney, the two handler is executed perfectly. William Petersen (Sterling) and Rae Gray (Becky) are both riveting in their storytelling. An understated Petersen delivers the awkward shyness of a sheltered person. The irrepressible Gray flails all over his labyrinth-styled life. The complicated pairing has an unexpected simplicity. The pushy-teenager-meets-born-again-hippie dialogue is authentic. Gray rants. Petersen questions. We get to watch their ongoing trust walk. They challenge each other to face the truth and they do it naturally. Their relationship fumbling endears for its heartfelt connectivity.

Set Designer Takeshi Kata keeps the look rainforest chic. The primitive hut is stark wooden framework. Greenery dangles from the ceiling and sprouts from the floor. Sound designer Richard Woodbury tunes us into the critters in the darkness. Iguanas scamper on the roof. Parrots chirp from unseen branches. Things go bump in the night. The jungle soundtrack is believable enough to be unsettling.

SLOWGIRL is about guilt and regret. Two people react to their mistakes by running away. When they stop running and start relating, their need for someone to believe them is heartbreaking.  SLOWGIRL is a slow-paced maze of humanity.   Petersen and Gray take their time in telling their stories.  The pace isn’t suspense building theatrics.  It’s real life genuine.

Running Time: Ninety minutes with no intermission
Written by Greg Pierce
Directed by Randal Arney
Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm
Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm
Thru August 25th
Buy Tickets at www.steppenwolf.org

Production photo courtesy of Michael Brosilow

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