Playwright Sarah DeLappe paints an endearing portrait of female adolescence with her inaugural play, “The Wolves,” now playing at the Studio Theatre at Krannert Center for Performing Arts.
In what the playwright herself describes as a “war play,” we meet nine unique young women doing their best to navigate the battlefield of high school through their dedication to the one thing they have in common: the love of competitive soccer.
As they take to the AstroTurf of their indoor sports dome, (a remarkable set design by Leon (Li) Kao, the girls warm up with a well-practiced, synchronized stretching ritual while they chatter. They cover a variety of topics, including menstrual cycles, Harry Potter, their absent coach’s hangovers, child-detainment camps and a Cambodian dictator, all without breaking a sweat (or character). The dialogue intentionally overlaps, creating a bit of adolescent chaos, as each distinct personality begins to emerge.
I could go on and try to identify types for you — the overachiever, the worrier, the gossip, etc., but DeLappe skillfully avoids those barriers in her writing to reveal that we are all of those things. We’ve all been terrified of the SATs. We’ve all worried about fitting in. We’ve all, at one point, been the “new kid,” and we’ve all, more than likely, faced unexpected loss. Growing up is tough business, and this play, with its raw honesty, illustrates that beautifully.
Under the insightful direction of Nisi Sturgis, “The Wolves” features one of the strongest, well-knit ensembles I’ve ever seen. Much like the characters they portray, they present a united, disciplined team committed to winning audience favor, and they do. Big win. Championship win.
Kudos to “The Wolves,” whose soccer skills were as impressive as their acting chops. In alphabetical order, the cast comprises Tafadzwa Diener, Greer Durham, Julia Gold, Jenna Kohn, Caitlin McDermott, Lily Ellora Newton, Uche Nwansi, Zoe Replinger, Erin Ryan and Kathleen Sullivan. Allison Moody, the lone adult, appears in the play’s final, heart-wrenching moments.
Be advised that this production contains harsh language and some strobe lighting effects. It is not necessary to be a soccer fan, or even have any soccer knowledge, to enjoy this play. You simply have to be human.