The stage is entirely covered with indoor turf. Two students appear dressed in soccer uniforms, and begin to talk, just with each other – subjects change – several others arrive – there’s some teasing, that might be cruel – several others turn up. They stretch. They run in place. They run in circles. Even pass soccer balls across the turf and back again. Their conversations begin to coalesce into something understandable. Yes, there is some bullying. The bullies pretend it is harmless. The bullee wishes it would stop. This is the introduction to “The Wolves” and it continues for 95 wonderful minutes, still an introduction as it is ending, but by then a team fully sharing their diversity into an enriched community.
Director Eric Ort allows the confusion when they first meet and the unity when they move on, after a tragedy, so that the audience follows them, without distraction, while they meld together. It’s an intimate portrait of young women at a key time in their development, full of questions that translate into how their differences make them individuals, and how their commitment links them to each other. DeLappe, who has received several nominations and awards for the writing, has skillfully integrated types and themes that resonate with society’s corners. There’s a student who has lived in many countries and been home-schooled. Another who has had an abortion and is defensive about her right to choose what happens to her body! One who rushes to the locker room because she is sick before every game. One who has discovered she likes girls instead of boys. One who is crushed when she learns that the national playoffs will not be near Disneyworld. And so on…
The power of this show, which is an ensemble production if there ever was one, is that the individuals in it blossom as separate flowers even while their roots are becoming intertwined, and the audience is caught up in following the process. It’s a good production, worth a visit. Tickets and information are at www.theaterworkshartford.org or call 860-527-7838
Tom Nissley for the Ridgelea Reports on Theatre October 22, 2017