The reality of being a teenage girl is brought to life with staunch realism in the highly entertaining THE WOLVES. This ensemble portrait of a girls soccer team is a beautiful coming of age drama that captures the pressures and horrors to be found along the way.
The play centers on a girls soccer team warming up before games. While there is no traditional plot line, we learn each girl’s story through interactions with teammates and friends. Gossip and friendly, sometimes not so friendly, teasing bring out the struggles of each girl’s individuality. The subtlety perfectly mirrors the way human beings hide their most intimate vulnerabilities so friends will not see the difficulties. Playwright Sarah DeLappe’s brilliant, naturalistic writing works on inexplicable levels.
The set is encapsulated in netting, which sets the scene perfectly and makes the theatre-goers the crowd. The stark green color of the fake turf is unmistakable as a reminder of a sports arena. The nets are used to bounce balls and act as an obvious barrier between the team and the audience. The feeling of being in a local sports arena is certainly achieved by set designer Collette Pollard.
Beyond bringing the intricate writing by DeLappe to life, the cast is forced to perform soccer drills. Each actor not only holds her own as a character but embodies a real soccer player through ball handling and endurance training. The business on stage becomes a character in itself.
GOODMAN THEATRE CREATES AN ENERGETIC ENSEMBLE
Just like a team of any sort, this play lives and dies by its ensemble. Each actor carries an incredible amount of weight in the storytelling, given its unconventional nature. Multiple conversations are often happening at the same time. Each actor needs to make sure the messages come across clearly. Any weak link would stick out. Much to the delight of the audience, however, there is no weak link in this production.
Erin O’Shea, as #46, gives a lovely performance as the outsider of the team. She embodies the social awkwardness and inner strength of a young girl forced to adapt to strange situations with great depth. Mary Tilden brings #13 to life as the friend we all had in high school that would poke fun of anything that seemed important to us. Her performance is authentic and hilarious. The friendship brought to life between #7 and #14, played by Natalie Joyce and Aurora Real De Asua respectively, breathes life into the team. The two girls, although they have a strong bond, have unspoken tension between them. The two performances would be a force on their own but when put together are simply stunning.
Photos by Liz Lauren
Top Pick For: Anyone who is going to be, is currently, or once was a teenage girl
Not recommended for: Strictly traditional, classic theatre goers
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
February 9 - March 18, 2018
Tuesdays: Dark; 7:30PM on February 27
Saturdays: 2:00PM and 8:00PM
Sundays: 2:00PM and 7:30PM (no 7:30PM performance on February 25 or March 11)
Strong Goals, Stronger Women: Women’s Night 2018, Thursday, February 27, 2018 at 5:30PM at Petterino’s
Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, Chicago
By phone at 312-443-3800
Online Goodman Theatre website
Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theater in Chicago