Theatre Review: The Wolves will have you howling for more
Presented by Red Ryder Productions, The Wolves is a tightly scripted play which explores the lives of a high school girls soccer team through their weekly warmup sessions. It is highly physical — the writer, Sarah DeLappe, wrote it wearing her sports bra as a way of method writing her way into the physicality of the piece. It has certainly worked; there is hardly a moment of this 90-minute work that does not feature lunges, lifts, and stretches. Without an intermission, an extended training scene marks a break between acts. This means that the girls’ bodies are seen not as passive recipients of lust — which is so often the case in mainstream media — but as strong and capable of amazing physical feats.
The play also explores the changing emotional bonds between the team members. While many have been playing together for years, they are now navigating late adolescence, and it's obvious throughout the play that some are maturing at different rates than others. To complicate matters further is the introduction of Number 46 (Elise Wilson).
Homeschooled, well travelled and socially awkward, she brings into the open a number of secrets through her ill-timed jokes. Some characters are easily recognisable, from the Christian teen who uses the cliche 'God doesn't give you any more than you can handle" without even a hint of irony and the overtly sexual, Number 7 (Angela Mahlatjie) who uses ‘fuck’ in every line and manipulates her best friend into a weekend away for her birthday. The natural dialogue and clear empathy for young women ensures none of these characters descend into caricature.
Featuring a cast of talented Perth actresses, The Wolves is an ensemble piece that is engaging and heartfelt. As an audience member, you come to appreciate the uniqueness of each player over the course of the play as they discuss the action that takes place off stage. When tragedy occurs, it is revealed through the team slowly coming back together for a final match of the season and you can feel the sadness ripple through the audience as they put the pieces together. The team also pull together, and are able to finally finish their team chant.
The Pulitzer Prize nominated script draws its humour not from making fun of the young women (again, something mainstream media is prone to do) but from a recognition that they are, inherently, intelligent human beings capable of making jokes about the situations they face. Caitlin McFeat (Number 8) and Courtney Cavallaro (Number 13) are standouts for their excellent sense of comedic timing.
The Wolves will brighten up your chilly, end of winter night — so make sure you head down to catch it at the Blue Room Theatre before the 7th of September.