‘Slowgirl’ explores the human condition in intimate setting

Photo by Dave Felice
                                Actors Kevin Lynch and Sommer Harris listen as director Edward Jordon reviews notes for the Outcast Theatre production of “Slowgirl.”

Photo by Dave Felice Actors Kevin Lynch and Sommer Harris listen as director Edward Jordon reviews notes for the Outcast Theatre production of “Slowgirl.”

Even with significant professional credentials, the latest offering from Whidbey’s Outcast Theatre is “very much a community production in every sense,” one of the principal players said.

In fact, Kevin Lynch of Langley is one of only two actors in the play, “Slowgirl.” The other is Sommer Harris. The play is directed by Edward Jordon of Greenbank. The Outcast Theatre is just inside the main entrance of Island County Fairgrounds.

“It is a play about the stew of life, rich in conflict and rich in tragedy,” Lynch said. “The play reflects the human condition that truth can be hard to face when people have had bad experiences.”

Lynch is deliberately vague about describing the story of “Slowgirl” because “the audience is challenged to figure out what is true” about the relationship of a young woman and her uncle, who is two generations older.

“A lot of complex information comes out in the course of the (four scene) play, but members of the audience have to decide if they trust the information,” Lynch said.

“Slowgirl,” written by Greg Pierce, premiered at Lincoln Center in New York in 2012. For the Whidbey production, Jordon started casting in January. The play opened May 25, following almost two months of rehearsal.

Lynch said he was immediately convinced he wanted to play the role of the older uncle in the play.

“As artists, we want to make a statement to show people what we can do,” he said.

He describes Harris, who plays the much younger niece, as “a fabulous actress, very bright, creative and fierce.”

In her youth, Harris gained acting experience on local stages. After finishing school on Whidbey, she studied in Bhutan and traveled widely in Africa. She has acted for many years at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts and elsewhere. Most recently, she directed “Fiddler on the Roof” at Whidbey Children’s Theater and played Maggie Mayhem in “Sherlock Holmes and the American Problem” at WICA.

In addition to his extensive acting credentials, Lynch is the founder-operator of an organization which conducts personalized fundraising for arts organizations. Lynch Resources has raised over $50 million for various performing arts entities in Washington.

Jordon had the debut of his musical “Bollywood and Vine” in Langley in 2016. The musical comedy launches its pre-Broadway tour next summer, featuring Kathleen Turner. She is a nominee for both Oscar and Tony awards. Jordon recently won best screenplay for his newest film script, “J’ai Fait,” at Pride Films and Plays in Chicago.

Lynch described Outcast as a very small, minimalist and intimate “black box” theatre at the Fairgrounds. Depending on demand, there are between 48 and 59 seats in the accessible house. According to Lynch, it can be a challenge to fill the theatre. “It’s a perfect venue for this very funny, dramatic, and revealing play” about the younger Becky who is sent to live with her older uncle Edward in Costa Rica, he said.

Becky faces difficulties at home after the death of a friend. Edward had escaped to Costa Rica to avoid complications stemming from the misdeeds of his former business partner.

“Rarely does an audience get a chance to see a play about the human condition in such an intimate setting,” Lynch said. “Both these characters find themselves in a rickety condition which requires them to face reality.

The wide generational gap adds to the richness of the production.”

“Slowgirl” at Outcast features an unusual set and props. The players have almost no makeup and very simple costumes. In addition to directing, Jordon designed the set. The staff – Kathleen Jennings, Jim Carroll, Paul Matthews and Ned Farley – is small. Artistic director K. Sandy O’Brien also runs the lights and sound for the play. A small dance troupe performs before the actors take the stage.

“The director gave us a wonderful working environment; the players have lots of freedom to adapt,” Lynch said. “Even though we’re dealing with highly complex situations, there’s still plenty of light and humor in the play.”

He added that it is unusual to have a two-person play with such a big age difference between the actors. “We are in the middle of the complexity and it is emotionally challenging for us. It’s very personal,” he said.

“Slowgirl” performances are at 7:30 p.m. on June 2, 7, 8, and 9. There is one performance at 4 p.m. on June 3.

Farley and O’Brien formed nonprofit Outcast after a long conversation over coffee eight years ago.

Farley, the co-artistic director, says Outcast’s role is to present “edgier, more provocative, and thoughtful productions that reflect timely issues with a few other presentations just for fun.” Since its formation, Outcast has staged many productions for island audiences and has become an established part of Whidbey’s performing arts.