Monday, March 5, 2018

Review of The Wolves at Goodman Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Wolves. It was by Sarah DeLappe and it was directed by Vanessa Stalling. It was about a all-girls teen soccer team and there was a new girl on the team, #46 (Erin O'Shea), who is trying to fit in. All of these girls have been in the exact same dynamic with the exact same girls for a really long time and it seems like that is getting overthrown, but maybe #46 has something the team needs. The new girl isn't the team's only problem. They are also trying to get through their own personal problems with gossip, anxiety, grief, depression, eating disorders, sexuality, identity, and the consequences of teen drama. I think this is a really compelling show that had very realistic character dynamics; the relationships were clear and they talked about things that actual girls talk about. It was amazingly acted and immersed you in the story.

This show has a lot of really close bonds between characters. Players #7(Natalie Joyce) and #14 (Aurora Real De Asua) had been very close for a very long time. They did everything together, but they didn't really think about other people in the group as people who had feelings. It literally takes a physical injury for #7 to start acknowledging other people. They would talk back to the captain, #25 (Isa Arciniegas). They had a coach, but he wasn't very interested and was always hungover, so #25 seems to really be in charge. They also pick on #46 for even existing and talking. There were definitely problems in their relationship; whenever they hung out with #7's boyfriend, #7 would try to get #14 to hook up with some rando so they could get her out of the way. Player #25 is one of the only people who fully accepts #46 and takes her aside and helps her to be able to play the position that she wants and deal with the people on the team. Player #25 is the voice of reason in this field full of gossip and hormones; she just wants to make them all a team. There were three girls #8 (Cydney Moody), #11 (Sarah Price), and #13 (Mary Tilden), and they were all sort of nerds. They would acknowledge the references to Middle Earth, which was the most adorable thing in the world. And they would talk about articles they read, even if they didn't fully understand them. Like #13 pronounced Khmer Rouge incorrectly. They were potential outsiders who were insiders with each other.

Not everyone had their friend group. Player #25 was too mature to be in any group; she was the leader and couldn't get distracted. But we find out that she has found someone not on the team who understands her and helps her and I ship them. Player #2 (Taylor Blim) is a good girl. She doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but she ends up doing it more than she realizes. She tries to fit in to all these different groups, but none of them fully accept her. Her mother is overprotective and makes her wear protective headgear because she keeps hurting herself, but I have theories of other reasons that might be happening. The goalie, #00 (Angela Alise), always got nauseous before games and is anxious and anti-social and doesn't talk to anyone much. But she is actually one of the most talented ones on the team. Even though not everyone is always hanging out together, they are still a team. They take this picture with orange slices in their mouths and they are waiting for #46 to get in the picture. And when she turns around, she just seems so distraught to have seen them with orange peels in their mouth. I thought that was adorable. Them taking this picture is a very nice moment, where you get to see all of them as a team and getting along even though they might not share the same opinions.

I thought this play did a great job of recreating how a lot of teen relationships actually are. It is a very true teen thing that people can love each other and still say dumb things to each other and talk behind each others' backs. This can ruin a friendship even if people didn't realize what they were doing when they actually were doing it. There are a lot of moments of social tension felt by the characters in this play. Like how #2 is talking about how #46 lives in a yogurt, when she doesn't know #46 is listening. But #46 actually lived in a yurt, and #2 is so embarrassed about being overheard and getting the name of where #46 lives wrong. Player #46 is embarrassed because she lives in a yurt, but she also owns it because she basically schools #2 about what a yurt is. Another moment of tension was when the girls were stretching and talking about how their favorite coach was so much better than their coach right now, but he had to go take care of his mom because she had cancer. And they are all yelling at #8 about how she seems to want his mother to die, which is not true...and they forgot that her mother had cancer. She says nothing is wrong, while she does everything, like drinking water, very angrily. This is something I've noticed my friends do when they are angry or think they've been accused unfairly. I thought it was interesting in the final scene how they made the audience feel the same tension that the characters would feel. Basically what happened was that you knew someone was dead, but you did not know who. And each living character would come on stage, one by one, between bits of dialogue. And as each person came in, you would be relieved that that person wasn't dead. Once the last person came in, you were crushed. This is how actual teenager social situations can feel. It feels like everything is riding on this, no matter how small the thing is. It feels like life or death, even when it isn't. But this actually is.

People who would like this show are people who like orange peel pictures, yogurt yurts, and angry water drinking. I think that people should definitely definitely go see this show. It is powerful and empowering and reminds you of how things felt when you were a teenager.

Photos: Liz Lauren

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