Slowgirl

1/4
Photograph: Erin Baiano
Claire Tow Theater. By Greg Pierce. Dir. Anne Kauffman. With Želko Ivanek, Sarah Steele. 1hr 40mins. No intermission.
2/4
Photograph: Erin Baiano
Claire Tow Theater. By Greg Pierce. Dir. Anne Kauffman. With Želko Ivanek, Sarah Steele. 1hr 40mins. No intermission.
3/4
Photograph: Erin Baiano
Claire Tow Theater. By Greg Pierce. Dir. Anne Kauffman. With Želko Ivanek, Sarah Steele. 1hr 40mins. No intermission.
4/4
Photograph: Erin Baiano
Claire Tow Theater. By Greg Pierce. Dir. Anne Kauffman. With Želko Ivanek, Sarah Steele. 1hr 40mins. No intermission.
Claire Tow Theater, Upper West Side Thursday June 14 2012 19:00

LCT3, Lincoln Center Theater’s emerging-artist wing, has opened a new venue on the roof of the Vivian Beaumont. The Claire Tow Theater contains a modular performance space, a roomy lobby and bar, and a wide terrace with views of the fountain and other points on the campus. Oh, also, there’s a debut play. But don’t expect the Tow to open with a work that yells, “Here I am: Behold my weird-ass dramaturgy!” Slowgirl is a well-written and scrupulous two-hander about shades of guilt and accountability, one you could imagine two flights down in the Newhouse. Maybe that’s a big compliment for a young theater: feels like you’ve been around for years.

Greg Pierce is also a newbie, but he’s making a career for himself in record time. (His other project: a new musical with the great composer John Kander.) Slowgirl shows a dramatist who can balance characters, use offstage space, build suspense, release tension through laughs and grab attention with life-or-death stakes. In Anne Kauffman, Pierce has a first-rate director for evoking a mood of uneasiness. Last are the actors, both excellent. Sterling (Ivanek) lives in self-exile in the Costa Rican jungle, where he leads a monkish existence after being implicated in a financial scandal that robbed Holocaust survivors. Flying in from the States is his 17-year-old niece, Becky (Steele), under suspicion for seriously injuring a classmate at a party. As the two relatives get awkwardly reacquainted, we slowly glean disturbing details about Becky’s actions. If Slowgirl is overly tidy (it could be a New Yorker short story), the actors give it a rich and textured emotional arc. Pierce’s dramatic voice has room to grow, but he couldn’t have found a nicer joint for vocal practice.—David Cote

Follow David Cote on Twitter: @davidcote

Venue name: Claire Tow Theater
Contact:
Address: 150 W 65th St
New York

Cross street: at Broadway
Transport: Subway: 1 to 66th St–Lincoln Ctr
Price: $20
Event website: http://lct3.org