The Wolves – Review by Tom Holehan

“Wolves” Prowl TheatreWorks Stage

Ah, the sports weepy! Since “Brian’s Song” has there ever been a more sure-fire way to get the tear ducts flowing than watching a healthy jock falter in the prime of life? Now the stage is currently producing its own version of this tried and true genre with a sex change. It’s called “The Wolves” and involves a team of high school girl soccer players going through the ups and downs of one tumultuous season.

Set on an AstroTurf covered stage (set design by Mariana Sanchez) representing an indoor soccer field, “The Wolves” follows a winter season of play with the diverse members of a girls soccer team as they joke, bicker, rebel, choose sides and ultimately bond over tragedy. Sarah DeLappe’s play, a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, knows the way contemporary girls talk and act within their own peer group and director Eric Ort has assembled an excellent cast (of both professional and non-Equity actors) who bring these characters to life. The play is a real workout for the cast as it involves a series of warm-up exercises and practices that seem thoroughly authentic. And exhausting.

We are introduced to the teammates by their numbers with few names ever being uttered. DeLappe has relied on stereotypes to differentiate the players, i.e. the fast girl, the tough jock, the born leader, the new girl, the anorexic, etc. As good as all the acting is here, however, “The Wolves” really never seems to become more than the sum of its parts. The girls all have personal dramas that are revealed, debated and then put aside so another issue can be raised. The play is broken up into several short scenes stretched out over 90 minutes with no intermission until one shocking event brings all the bickering members to unify in the time-honored tradition of “the game must go on”.

As noted, there isn’t a weak member in the ensemble. Emily Murphy as the team’s captain, Caitlin Zoz as a mysterious new player and Karla Gallegos as a goalie who throws up before every match stand out in the talented company. In a rather thankless, one-scene role as a distraught soccer mom who arrives late in the drama, Megan Byrne’s emotional monologue manipulates shamelessly but delivers nonetheless. Special mention must be given to Soccer Consultant Lexi Menard and Rob Denton’s lighting and Karin Graybash’s sound design is also first-rate.

As a side note, another production of “The Wolves” is currently playing a limited engagement in New York City at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center. Miss DeLappe is, apparently, having her moment in the sun.

“The Wolves” has been extended twice at TheaterWorks now playing through November 12. For further information or ticket reservations call the theatre box office at 860.527.7838 or visit: www.theaterworkshartford.org.

Tom Holehan is one of the founders of the Connecticut Critics Circle, a frequent contributor to WPKN Radio’s “State of the Arts” program and Artistic Director of Stratford’s Square One Theatre Company. He welcomes comments at: tholehan@yahoo.com. His reviews and other theatre information can be found on the Connecticut Critics Circle website: www.ctcritics.org.

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