Act Fast To Get Your Tickets For “Slowgirl”

By Chris Narloch

Two-person plays require strong writing and careful casting to keep an audience’s attention, but they also reap benefits for a viewer that can include a depth of character development and performance not found in many one-person plays or ensemble works.

The current production of “Slowgirl” at Sacramento’s Capital Stage boasts a pair of impressive performances, a smart script, and skillful direction that wrings every bit of drama out of this rich story of two damaged souls battling and ultimately bonding in the jungle.

“Slowgirl” is the story of a teenager who flees the United States to her reclusive uncle’s retreat in the Costa Rican jungle to escape the aftermath of a terrible accident and finds that he is wrestling with some demons of his own.

Two people with mysterious pasts hiding out in the jungle was all the hook I needed to get me in to a theater seat, and I am happy to report that this play, which was written by Greg Pierce, delivers on its intriguing premise.

Characters with secrets are fun to play, and actors Stephanie Altholz and Tim Kniffin disappear effortlessly in to the roles of Becky and Sterling, two family members running from their pasts who gain strength from shared pain.

Ms. Altholz is so in character as a self-involved, immature young woman who may be responsible for another young woman’s suffering that I have to admit that I found Becky fairly repugnant until, late in the play, the character’s vulnerability is revealed in a shocking confession.

Mr. Kniffin gives a more interior but no less fascinating performance, as the mysterious uncle whose escape from his previous world is shaken up by a needy niece whose present life is as troubled as his past.

In addition to the solid cast, “Slowgirl” profits from sound design by Ed Lee that effectively brings the jungle in to our ears, set design by Brian Redfern that cleverly morphs from interior to exterior in between scenes, and subtle direction by Jennifer King that showcases her talented cast but doesn’t get in their way.

“Slowgirl” made me think about how empathy can help people survive devastating tragedy and guilt with their humanity intact. That’s not a small thing for a playwright to tackle, and Capital Stage can be proud of their new production of Greg Pierce’s compelling play.

You can see “Slowgirl” at Capital Stage on J Street, through Feb. 24, 2019. Visit www.capstage.org.

Photos: Stephanie Altholz & Tim Kniffin. All photos by Charr Crail.


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