People fresh from a catastrophic crisis in their lives sometimes retreat to a faraway place to regain their equilibrium. The drama "Slowgirl," currently at Sacramento’s Capital Stage, features two stressed-out Americans hanging out in the lush jungles of Costa Rica.
Uncle Sterling is a middle-aged guy. He’s something of a silver fox, but kinda shy. He’s being visited by his teenage niece Becky, an American high school student who hasn’t seen her reclusive uncle in years. When Becky arrives at Sterling’s modest little cabin near a remote jungle village, she immediately notices the wildlife, including birds that she’s more accustomed to seeing in a cage.
“Oh my god, that’s a parrot. This is so crazy… You have a parrot in your front lawn,” she says.
“I know,” her uncle responds.
Sterling quickly realizes that his 17-year-old niece has grown up a lot since the last time he saw her, as a pre-teen girl. And Becky is taking the measure of her uncle as well: He’s clearly recovering from some kind of nasty run in with the law.
Becky is currently facing legal troubles, too. She was involved with a wild teenage party that got out of hand — a drunk girl at the party fell out of a second story window, and sustained critical injuries. Becky decides to raise that topic, somewhat nervously: “I didn’t have anything to do with what happened to that girl, by the way. My mom doesn’t believe me.”
If you are sensing that she isn’t telling the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, you’re right.
What gradually emerges, as these troubled souls begin to trust each other as adults, is a growing awareness of what’s nagging at their respective minds. This creates spiffy opportunities for strong acting.
The play gets more intense as the two confide in each other, and the show runs straight through, 90 minutes, no intermission.
Veteran actor Tim Kniffin and young professional Stephanie Altholz each have opportunities to shine, especially Altholz, who gets to show what she can do in a complex dramatic role, rather than a frothy comedy. "Slowgirl" is a solid piece of theater, and well worth seeing.