The Wolves is a play about fear and anxiety by playwright Sarah DeLappe. What better target is there for angst than teenagers in general and teenage girls in particular? The play premiered Off-Broadway in 2016. Wolves was a 2017 Pulitzer Prize Drama finalist.
The play opens with a girls soccer team, The Wolves, stretching and exercising in a circle. They all face the center, but often speak or kibitz to whomever is nearest. They are in uniform and have their backpacks and sports bags close beside them. Sometimes it seems like their whole lives are inside those bags as the girls carry and hug them. The girls stretch by themselves but also assist their fellow team members. Although the story involves soccer, the delivery is more like ping pong as comments fly back in forth in rapid succession.
The stage and layout of Lakewood Playhouse seems ideal for this production, but it might just be that director Indeah Harris made it ideal. The stage is set with artificial grass for the girls to lie on and exercise on, but the short distance from the stage to the lobby gave an excellent track for laps as the girls ran out to the lobby through one exit and appeared from the other and then circled numerous times. While they are running there is still action and discussion going on in the field. Harris and Stage Manager Abigail Shedd took full advantage of everything the playhouse had to offer.
The main bank of seats face the grass field, and much smaller seating areas flank the field on either side. At the back of the field in a soccer goal/net. You don’t get to see a match, but you do get to see my favorite scene with the goalie (played by Sierra Margullis), who throws up before every game. She doesn’t throw up on stage, but she delivers a fine performance and dead-on kicks.
The new girl (played by Kaydance Rowden) is strange and draws commentary and wariness. She has been home schooled and traveled the world. She does a quick little ball handling routine that must have taken some practice. Nicely played.
The joy of being part of a group reveals itself in sharing orange wedges (a soccer staple) and a selfie moment. The girls are having a good time, acting crazy and laughing at themselves . . . . but off to the side and separated from the team we see the new girl by herself looking on.
The cast has been working on this play for two months. In one long scene we see the circle of girls kicking balls to each other and throwing comments at the same time. Your head swivels to accommodate the movements and issues discussed which range from atrocities to abortion and beyond.
Rivalry and competition take a backseat as the captain shows up for practice with a new buzz cut she gave her self. The other girls have to touch and feel the softness. The gesture alone tells the story of acceptance and membership.
In 2014 a very young Sarah DeLappe attended an exhibit of contemporary art from the Middle East and North Africa. She compared the members of the crowd: people on their iPhones, chatting, and sipping cold brew amidst the artists who were responding to both current and historical situations in their countries with their works of art. “On the subway back to my apartment, I started writing the first scene of a play where these simultaneous conversations are happening about the Khmer Rouge and the efficacy of tampons on a soccer field. That I figured out quickly that these characters were on a soccer field came from a question: What could be further away from those humanitarian disasters than a bunch of American suburbanites on an indoor soccer field warming up for a game? I started thinking of the characters as if they were in a war movie, but instead of young men in the trenches preparing for battle, they were young women on AstroTurf preparing for a soccer game.” – onstage.goodmantheatre.org/2018/01/26/leaders-of-the-pack-a-conversation-with-the-wolves-playwright-sarah-delappe-and-director-vanessa-stalling/
I like the title of the play. People think about wolves as vicious animals ravaging calves near ranches and herds of elk at Yellowstone, but wolves are family and they work together and protect their own. The Wolves soccer members, even after adversity, gather together to cheer each other on.
The play runs thru March 22nd.
For tickets call 253-588-0042 or visit – tix6.centerstageticketing.com/sites/lakewoodplayhouse/#