Friday, October 20, 2017

Review of "The Wolves"

The Wolves, is a unique drama that uses the backdrop of an indoor women’s soccer team to probe the multi-faceted relationships of female teenagers.  The premise is simple.  Nine teens gather to drill and prepare for matches over the course of an unspecified time-period.  The group has grown up together playing at various town and travel team levels.  During their time on stage they workout, banter about silly matters, world politics, sex, friendship and more.  As the show progresses the audience slowly becomes more engrossed in their lives and their unique bond.  We become aware of more serious concerns that are just bubbling under the surface of their small talk and carefree attitude.   Issues such as sexual self-identity, individualism, and adolescent anxiety become apparent.  Death also knocks at their door.

Playwright Sarah DeLappe takes the dynamics that surround the soccer team and has crafted a play full of realism and brio.  At times, raw and full of emotion, the interchanges feel fresh, true, and not forced.  She incorporates overlapping dialogue that adds to the authenticity of the action.  The young woman can be playful, callous, and impudent.   They can shift from being bosom buddies one moment and snapping antagonists the next.  There is a reason the show is named for a predatory animal. 

Like a well-trained sports team, the troupe of nine actresses work seamlessly together.  Each member is integral for the success and betterment of the whole.  Throughout the play particular characters will take the spotlight, but then fade back within the assemblage.  The performers have no problem wearing their emotions on their sleeves, which gives the production a realistic feel to it.  There is one adult in the show, Megan Byrne, who appears briefly at the play’s end.  She delivers a heartfelt and penetrating performance.

Director Eric Ort has molded the collection of young performers into a superb ensemble that is drilled and conditioned in soccer basics.  They effortlessly kick the balls to each other, run wind sprints, and talk the talk.  He has forged a group esprit de corps while, at the same time, keeping each member’s individual personality and temperament intact.  He assiduously ensures the dramatic arc of the production remains genuine, slowly ratcheting up the tension as the show nears its end.

Scenic designer Mariana Sanchez has created a simple, visually striking green artificial turf set that spans the width of the small Theaterworks stage.  Its minimalism and bareness is restrained, but highly effective.

The Wolves, clever and smart, playing through November 10th.

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