“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”– Ernest Hemingway
When the lights come up on Seattle Public Theater’s Slowgirl, you find middle-aged Sterling (Kevin McKeon) softly swaying in a hammock in an open door jungle house lined with his favorite books, fresh fruit and the soothing cries of the native wildlife in the distance. His Costa Rican serenity is then abruptly rocked by his 17 year old niece Becky (Hannah Mootz) who has come to visit after getting in trouble with the law back in the United States. They haven’t seen each other in nine years and their current lives couldn’t be any more foreign to each others and yet they have a sense of escapism and desperation for trust that is beguilingly familiar to each other.
Sterling’s jungle estate is home to his own labyrinth that he silently strolls each day meditating which lends a beautiful metaphor to Becky’s spiritual journey to come to terms with the crimes she is being accused of back in the states. Over mango and papaya smoothies, she confesses to her uncle that she is facing charges of potential manslaughter as she is caught up with a booze-fueled teenage party that coerces a cognitively-impaired classmate Slowgirl into jumping out of a second story window. The dark themes of this play were tenderly addressed by director, Kelly Kitchens, and yet this Seattle Public Theater cast and crew have found many light moments to keep the audience alternately wincing in pain and erupting in fits of laughter.
The stand out performance was Kevin McKeon as Sterling, with all his nuanced deliveries and his consistent calming demeanor. He manages to hide Sterling’s demons with the facade Sterling has built over the years spent in seclusion and the ease at which McKeon portrays the struggle is masterful. Mootz’s performance is certainly not to go without mention as she hit “17 year old basic bitch”, in the onset of the show, on the head. Her portrayal of naïve ignorance plays beautifully up against the weathered and wise Uncle Sterling. I can’t recommend enough that you go and see this show!
It was 85 minutes long and I desperately wanted it to go on! It runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm until April 12th at the Bathhouse Theater in the Northwest corner of Greenlake.
By Geoff Finney