Laura and Samara spend their days as non-profit unicorns and fill every spare minute exploring the world of musical theatre as BFFs (that’s Broadway Friends Forever). Follow @bffs613 on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Theatre Kraken is giving audiences a preview into the inner workings of what happens on and off the pitch in their production of The Wolves, on stage now at The Gladstone Theatre. Written by Sarah DeLappe, the show first premiered Off-Broadway in 2016 opening with two sold-out extended runs. It was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
The Wolves follows a team of teenage girls through a series of warm-up sessions throughout their indoor soccer season. Filled with drills, stretches and chats about politics, periods, competition, pettiness, jealousy and family struggles, the team often borders between innocence and naivety, and hardcore passion and depth.
The simple staging is perfect for the context of the story. The stage covered in FieldTurf with not much else but a few hexagons of a soccer ball artistry hung on the back of the stage. The soundtrack plays only between scenes, opening with the best stadium song of all time We Will Rock You, the rest of the transition songs connect directly to what the girls discussed in the previous scene—whether it’s This is America or a song from Metric.
The team consists of nine girls, and other than one of the girl’s moms who appears in the final scene, no other characters or adults are seen throughout the play. Each team member has their own personality, depth and struggle. Some stories are delved into a bit more than others, yet each actor gave a strong performance and held her own.
Tara Paterson as #7 and Kelsey Rideout as #11 gave performances that captivated us throughout the show. Robin Hodge, #00, blends into the background for most of the show as her character rarely speaks and is often too focused on preparing for the game to engage much with the other team members. But when #00 takes the stage alone towards the end of the show and shares her vulnerability and emotion with the audience, Hodge fills the entire theatre in what was probably the most impactful and moving part of the show.
Though the show had all the ingredients for success, good performances, well-done staging and music, the plot fell a little flat for us. We left the theatre mostly in a state of confusion, though there was nothing particularly negative about the show—we couldn’t quite figure out what the point of it all was. Most of the emotional moments (other than Hodge’s show-stealing scene) didn’t connect for us and some of the characters’ stories felt like they had gaps that we were trying to piece together. There was a theme of innocence lost throughout the show, but something about the ending missed the punch for us.
In the end, it’s rare to see a stage filled with women and teenage girls in roles that are telling the female story. The cast was able to take the audience through teenage life, facing struggles big and small, wins and losses, and serves as a reminder on the value of relationships and what it really means to be a team.
The Wolves plays at The Gladstone Theatre until February 8. Tickets are $24–40 online and at the box office. Mature themes and content. Not suitable for people under 13 years of age. The show runs 1 hour 45 minutes including intermission.