One of the most celebrated plays of the last decade, Sara DeLappe’s The Wolves chronicles the indoor soccer season of a group of young women somewhere in middle America. DeLappe’s tour de force of idiomatic writing offers an extraordinary opportunity for powerful ensemble work. Aided by the imaginative direction of Sara Rademacher, this excellent cast delivers an outstanding production that’s full of energy, nuance, and fun.
As with teams in real life, the shared experience of competition reveals character. Individuals and their relationships blossom, fracture, and reset in response to rhythms imposed by the season’s schedule. For the proudly defiant #7 (Brooklyn Snyder), it’s a combination of conflict with the captain, #25 (Amanda Russell), and a fall from grace — both on and off the field, as her relationship with her best friend, #14 (Rachel Brown) falters.
While the rising story arc of newcomer #46 (Hattie Ugoretz) counterbalances the fall of #7, the zany specificity of the other team members gives the show its heart. Every woman gets a chance to shine, whether through humor — #13 (Piper Eglin) — or seriousness, as with #11 (Natalia Achatz). #00 (Abbie Mintz), #2 (Sasha Gray), and #8 (Joan Cheam) each contribute to the overall grace and consistency of the experience with beautifully realized performances.
When Soccer Mom (Candice Goodman) arrives to deliver her extraordinary speech in the play’s finale, one senses that beneath the show’s tagline of “Fierce. Fearless. Female,” a darker truth has been lurking all along. The Wolves celebrates female friendship and provides a welcome glimpse into the lives of young people, but it also reminds us of an agonizing fact — bubbles burst.