- Last Updated: 11:32 AM, June 19, 2012
- Posted: 10:51 PM, June 18, 2012
Claire Tow Theater, 150 W. 65th St.; 212-239-6200. Through July 15.
The Costa Rican jungle is the evocative setting for “Slowgirl,” the new play by Greg Pierce. But while the ever-present sounds of birds and mysterious animals provide some atmospheric tension, this delicate two-character piece is slow going.
The inaugural presentation of the Claire Tow Theater — the handsome new space atop the Vivian Beaumont — is the latest offering by Lincoln Center’s LCT3, devoted to new artists. The playwright, the 34-year-old nephew of actor David Hyde Pierce, recently collaborated with composer John Kander on the musical “The Landing.”
“Slowgirl” concerns the reunion between Becky (Sarah Steele), a precocious 17-year-old, and her uncle Sterling (Zeljko Ivanek), who’s been living in self-imposed solitude.
As we soon learn, both have run away from something. Sterling fled to the wilds of Costa Rica after his former law partner went to jail for embezzling funds from clients, including Holocaust survivors. And Becky’s in serious trouble after attending a party in which a mentally challenged young woman jumped out of a window.
Much of the play concerns the cultural clash between the two. Becky’s sexually frank language and rum-swilling make her uncle uncomfortable; she’s horrified by his open living arrangements, and the eerie nighttime sounds of iguanas on the metal roof.
“Your house is like a horror movie from the ’80s,” she says.
It’s not hard to guess that they’ll heal each other’s psychic wounds. But while the dialogue and characterizations ring true, the plot contrivances prove more than this slight work can bear.
That said, the actors shine under Anne Kauffman’s assured direction. Steele makes adolescent angst seem painfully real, while Ivanek, who won a Tony nod nearly 30 years ago for “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” subtly clues you in to the turmoil beneath his outwardly controlled appearance.
Tickets are only $20 for this world premiere. It’s worth that just to take in the expansive view of Lincoln Center Plaza from the Tow’s outdoor terrace.