Theater Review by Howard Steven Frydman
Production: THE WOLVES
Written by: Sarah DeLappe
Director: Eric Ort
“We are the Wolves”, “WE are the Wolves”- “WE ARE THE WOLVES”! – a chant, a rallying call, the howl of the pack, these pups- these litter mates on a high school girl’s soccer team – hear their call- We are “The Wolves” a pricelessly playful and impassioned new play by Sarah DeLappe currently being presented at TheaterWorks in Hartford is litter-ly not to be missed! In fact shout it out to the world- this is one heck of a good – nay great- play that you should not “drop the ball” on – but tell folks- “ I Was There” at the start – when this production became a world-wide phenom. Once seen- you may yourself be baying- “The Wolves”! I Loved It – and so will you!!
“The Wolves” – A 2017 Pulitzer Prize Finalist – What a great choice for the first play of TheaterWorks’ 32nd season- but I do have to admit that at first I was a bit reluctant in seeing a production about nine young girls on a soccer team as they prepared for their weekly game. What kind of story is this about – what would they talk about boys and soccer balls? Boy was I wrong and rightly put in my place- so glad Director Eric Ort and this great, nay outstanding- cast of young actresses proved me wrong. This is one of those rare times when I simply enjoyed going out to live theater and discovering greatness – and this my friends is one of them. Let me tell you- Extraordinary, Captivating, Intense and spirited- I was as literally pulled into their “soccer world,”, hand to chin to head, – their on stage team dynamics, just like a game of soccer, is riveting from start to end.
The story- think Seinfeld- a story about nothing and yet for these young girl athletes – about everything- a sorta Cinéma vérité, their personal lives, on and off the field. Each player, designated by only a number- think classic TV’s “Secret Agent Man”- “taking away your name and given you a number” or even “The Prisoner”- I am not a number. I am a free Man”. The team roster- numbers 11, 8, 13, 2, 25, 46, 14, 7, and the goalie 00. Yet very quickly they take on more than a number- the team captain, the quiet goalie, the home schooler, the one with a “reputation”, the hungry one- like eating pistachios you just want more- what happens next in their varied stories- will the new girl be accepted, why is the goalie always sick before a game, why is the team captain so resolute, will they go to regionals in Florida and visit DisneyWorld?
Firstly, the joy here is the pitter patter overlapping dialogue, back and fourth, round robin style of our young actors, it so reminded me of watching the same type fast paced dialogue often seen in Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy films, or Humphrey Bogart in the “Maltese Falcon”, even John Hughes’ “The Breakfast Club”. In fact, if one was to turn around in the theater, you would notice the rapt attention being given to the young cast by the audience, desperately trying to grasp onto each and every word of the fast paced choreographed, yet so authentic “teenage” dialogue – one minute a tirade about the Khmer Rouge the next the benefits of eating orange slices or just high school life in general. The other constant- I was simply amazed that throughout the production these young ladies are in perpetual movement as they practiced for “The Game” with footwork drills, dribbling, passing, even doing laps around the entire main stage indoor soccer field- pure stamina! Major kudos go out to “The Wolves” soccer consultant Lexi Menard – excellence job in preparing these actors for their practice sessions.
Our young actors- let us now take away their numbers and give you the names of these amazing actors- Shannon Keegan (#11), Claire Saunders (#8), Dea Julien (#13), Carolyn Cutillo (#2), Emily Murphy (#25), Caitlin Zoz (#46), Rachel Caplan (#14), Olivia Hoffman (#7), and Karla Gallegos (#00) – each and every one – Simply Outstanding a true team effort- in fact you all get a coveted “Howard Noticed YOU” accolade and I look forward to seeing you in future productions. Truthfully, these young actors are the reason why this production is a huge success and a must see “happening event”. Theaterworks- this acting team deserves a trip to DisneyWorld!!
I must also take note of the inspiring set design by Mariana Sanchez in creating one of the largest sets I have ever seen at TheaterWorks – an overflowing soccer field, inside the theater-great job! Lastly, as noted I was “heart and soul” taken by Ms. DeLappe’s play- after 90 minutes I was basically riveted to this story and at its conclusion wanted it not to end. If this was a TLC/Discovery television series- “The Wolves”- a weekly documentary on the team – I would be a major fan- ever looking forward to what happens next- yes it’s that darn good- bottom line – “WE ARE THE WOLVES” – a must SEE at TheaterWorks! Enjoy!
“The Wolves” , by Sarah DeLappe and directed by Eric Ort is currently being produced at TheaterWorks, City Arts on Pearl, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford, CT. For tickets or info call TheaterWorks at 860.527.7838. Run Dates: October 5th through November 10th, 2017.
Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.