A chocolate box of a girl's soccer team?
In the young adult world of me, myself, and I it was the new girl's surprising inverted scissor kick for the winning soccer goal turning this cloth of multiple personalities into a hormonal woven fabric of one-for-all unity.
Pulitzer Prize nominated Sarah Delappe has constructed a play outside the box of theatrical norms with a happy girls soccer team of high school worries and all the incredibly important -- to them -- issues that drive adolescents into young women acting out their coming of age adventures.
THE WOLVES playing at the Hippodrome Theatre through September 23, and directed by Hippodrome Artistic Director Lauren Caldwell is a youthful story highlighted by TEN different personalities. Individuals imagining the emotional cross they bare is way bigger than anyone else's cross. These are TEN soccer playing women and TEN unique, behavioral issues seeking a unity to overcome teenage trials and tribulations in a quest for the team and personal recognition.
In this parents perspective this all too familiar, contemporary slice-of-life play, THE WOLVES, practice drills as they prepare for upcoming soccer matches. During warm up exercises the pack of teammates talk about life navigating the politics of their personal lives. Topical issues of the larger world, gossiping about things like war, menstrual products, genocide, sports, pop culture, and their relationships. Team members struggle with their individuality while learning to be a part of the WOLVES team. The girls bond over a bag of orange slices and personal traumas. The team hits rock bottom with the sudden death of one of the pack members. Eventually they manage to come together preparing to play yet another game as a team – closer, stronger, wiser, and fiercer.
Presented to the audience in rapid fire emotional expressions on the green turfed practice field of life the soccer team's young women are practicing, working, playing hard to reach the championship title game. So you think that's an easy assignment? Consider this:
#7, (Marissa Toogood) With her eyes on college scholarship she is confidant her soccer skills, and determination will propel her to the next level of college life, hopes and dreams.
#46, (Suzy Weller), The new girl in school is nothing new for #46 having moved around the world with her mother being the outsider, trying to become an insider is familiar social, emotional territory.
#13, (MaRah Williams), Sports has always been #13's vehicle for acceptance. Her overt behavior, smart, quick, mannerisms enable her to grab the limelight, attention from her teammates.
#11, (Gloria Halsell), The emotional baggage of having your mother intimately involved with the high school football star makes it tough hiding the embarrassment and befriending teammates.
#2, (Melanie Scholl) #2's eating disorder is no secret, unfortunately for her it is an overt problem she is trying to deal with.
We're not talking about Forrest Gump's box of chocolates here but a high school girls' soccer team appropriately named THE WOLVES. The symbolism shouldn't go unnoticed according to the Living With The Wolves website.
To PARAPHRASE: The job of maintaining order and cohesion in the wolf pack falls largely to the alphas. Typically, there is only one Alpha pair in a pack. They, especially the alpha female (the mother of the pack), are the glue keeping the pack together. The loss of a parent can have a devastating impact on social group cohesion. In small packs human-caused mortality of the alpha female or of both breeders can cause the entire pack to dissolve.
Keeping that thought in mind the role playing, acting out, of this 'pack of wolves' symbolism creates an even more interesting paradigm of exactly what is the personal, and inter-personal intent of these young ladies on a mission of athletic supremacy.
Much applause to Director Lauren Caldwell who created an environment of youthful, personal objectives for THE WOLVES while at the same time presenting a story of identity, growth, and acceptance. Being a dad, to two lovely women that progressed through the high school and athletic team adventures, that was me smiling, nodding my head to the right of the Hipp stage when #46 found the injured #7 to express her understanding of the circumstances, "You should have been out there playing, scoring the winning goal not me" #46 said acknowledging her new friend, teammate, and wolf pack mate's skill set.
Kudos to the HIPP Design team for setting the Astro Turf stage perfectly for these WOLVES to call home. Was I so enthralled with the story I missed Sound Designer Amanda Yanes musical score. (One day the GLOB Master will do a profile on the Hipp's music maven. . . I hope.)
A+ for the scene toward the end of the play where THE WOLVES are battling for the title with #00 (Jordan Sisson) overcoming plot twists while putting it all on the line to win for THE WOLVES. Splendidly done!
Like the box of assorted chocolates mentioned above there are too many excellent performances to list them all. My favorite WOLVES teammates are:
MaRah Williams was extraordinary in her portrayal of the get down, keep it all up attitude of #13. #13 was working hard at being the pack leader with a quick comment about all things happening to the WOLVES. Was #13 hiding her emotional foibles, or was she just happy to be on the team, playing a game she loves, with her buds.
Susy Wellar's portrayal of #46, the new girl in school is one hopefully we can all identify with. Not her first indoctrination into a new environment #46 stayed comfortable in her own skin waiting for things she knew and understood, opportunities where she could, 'be like the other girls'.
Lastly, perhaps most importantly, long time Hipster and actress Stephanie Lynge performed a masterful job as the team's Soccer Mom trying to keep ten egos, personalities in line while moving the story forward with the trust and patience only a mother could demonstrate.
I was interested in seeing what made THE WOLVES a Pulitzer prize contender. After thinking about it over night from the unique 90 minute play format with no intermission, to a compelling coming of age story covering. The playwright smartly incorporated so many personal, and social issues into these ten ladies we all could identify with the young athletes in this remarkable play with compelling story telling.
NOTE TO THE OLDER GENERATION: If you could get past the language THE WOLVES would be a cross-generational play that would make for interesting conversation, and certainly worth sharing with your younger siblings over a big box of chocolates.
EDITOR's NOTE: Special thanks to the Hippodrome's Michael Eaddy, and Rachel Jones for the THE WOVES images. The WOLVES continues on various days and times through September 23. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more THE WOLVES information.