ACT Theatre’s production of The Wolves, by Sarah DeLappe, is a performance that anyone who has survived a day of high school can enjoy. It is a story about losing your innocence and learning to navigate real world issues from the humorous perspective of high school girls during their soccer warm-ups.
Much like life in high school, the women of The Wolves bombard their audience with hilariously misinformed conversation about everything from sexual health to genocides to being politically correct. There seemed to almost always be two to three conversations happening at once. During their first warm up session, three girls instruct their teammate on how to use a tampon while several other girls attempt to educate the rest on ethnic cleansing in Cambodia. The juxtaposition of the content of their conversations sent waves of laughter through the audience. This whirlwind-y style of dialogue was one of the play’s most interesting characteristics and paralleled the struggle that is coming of age. Similar to real life, their struggles seem to hit them all at once. Their humor is layered with darker messages and life lessons they learn from one another through joking around. Together, the teammates confront adult issues for the first time with humorous, wide-eyed, naivety.
The actors who make up the Wolves are capable of transporting you back to your own high school football field. Everyone is full of energy and incredibly expressive which lent to the innocence and naivety that they needed to portray. Rachel Guyer-Mafune, who plays #13, succeeded in putting a youthful, goofy, spin on every issue they confronted and Emma Bjornson, who plays the ultra-innocent #2, never failed to have a look of uncertainty and discomfort plastered on her face as her teammates attempted to corrupt her. As a whole, the team gave a performance that everyone in the audience could find a little piece of to relate to. The team was constantly engaged in warm ups, conditioning, conversation, or sometimes a combination of the three. However, this activity sometimes led into abrupt silences when things like abortions or eating disorders become real for the Wolves. The team was able to create an oppressive silence when following such activities. Performance aside, it was so refreshing to attend a production with an all-female cast.
The Wolves’ costumes, which for the most part were soccer jerseys accessorized with heavy eye makeup and slick-backed ponytails, emphasized the adolescent phase that the actors were portraying. Costume designer Melanie Taylor Burgess quite accurately depicted the appearance of female high school athletes. Some of the actors wore the same pre-wrap headbands that I remember seeing in the ponytails of my own high school’s women’s soccer team. The set, which resembled a soccer stadium, was another highlight of the performance. The audience completely surrounded the stage, which was a small piece of turf, and gave the impression that we were fans who turned out for their soccer game. The set remained unchanged throughout the entire production, insinuating that the Wolves hash out all their problems together, on the field. The actors do a good job at addressing the entire audience despite the fact the actors are completely surrounded by it. There were few moments when I felt it was difficult to discern what they were saying due to the actors facing another part of the audience.
The Wolves presents audiences with a wonderful opportunity to look back on their high school selves and laugh. Everyone can find their voice in one of the nine members of the Wolves. The Wolves will run through May 13th. Get your tickets now.
The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe, directed by Sheila Daniels. ACT Theatre. 700 Union Street, Seattle, WA 98101. Tuesday-Thursday 7:30pm. Friday 8:00pm. Saturday 2:00pm & 8:00pm. Sunday 2:00pm. Until May 13th. Info & Tickets: http://www.acttheatre.org