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
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