Review | ‘The Wolves’ feeds high emotion by perfectly capturing teenage girls conversations
The cast of Sarah DeLappe’s “The Wolves” at in Actors Theatre of Louisville. Photo by Jonathan Roberts.
By Martin Sanders-Whitley
Atherton High School, Class of 2020
Sarah DeLappe’s “The Wolves,” which opened at Actors Theatre of Louisville on Jan. 10, follows a high school girls’ soccer team as it performs warm-ups before playing. Through the players’ conversations, the audience learns more about each girl, gaining insight into their lives.
The characters — identified by soccer numbers rather than names — each have their own personal struggles. #46 has just moved from another country and is struggling to fit in. #00 is an intense perfectionist with anxiety. The information revealed in their dialogue never feels like forced exposition, and the actors play their characters distinctively without making them into caricatures.
Their conversations also give insight into serious world issues. Discussions of genocide and abortion mingle with gossip and recollections of past games. Uncomfortable exchanges look at foreign identity in the United States, while also providing the play with awkward situational humor, as in this short exchange.
#14: “Um, no. I already spoke English.”
#8: “Oh! OK. I guess that’s why you don’t have a Mexican, uh”
#14: “I’m Armenian.”
While the play never resolves these uncomfortable issues, this feels realistic. Still, it’s hard to tell if this works to the play’s advantage.
The dialogue overlaps, and topics jut in and out of conversations, disappearing halfway through a scene only to reappear later. This, combined with a juvenile tone and a mixture of serious and mundane topics, perfectly captures the rhythm and content of high schoolers’ conversations.
The minimalist production includes a grassy field with a white line through the middle simulating a soccer field. In the music between scenes, drumbeats mix with samples of girls’ voices to add to the production’s athletic feel but add little to the actual performances.
The decision to stage the production as theater in the round adds to the feeling of players on a soccer field. But actors are at production’s core, and each actress feels very real, drawing the audience into their world, with the ability to bring the audience into a state of high emotion, and leave them there.
Martin Sanders-Whiteley writes for Atherton High School’s Aerial magazine and reviews movies as Anthropomantic Fiend on YouTube.