We will cut to the chase: The Wolves is well-worth seeing!
“It was all so real!” That was the first comment that we heard uttered by a fellow audience member as we headed out into the lobby of Sonorous Road Theatre & Film Studio in the wake of the opening-night performance of Sarah DeLappe’s captivating 2016 Off-Broadway play and 2017 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Drama The Wolves. And the intense “real-ness” is the show’s primary strength, its foundation. Sonorous Road Repertory Company’s production of this play had afforded us the pleasure of meeting a diverse group of teenage athletes (and one soccer mom), and we felt as though we had actually been “there” as the action unfolded — it was as though we had, indeed, been flies-on-the-(Fourth)-Wall.
The athletes that we had just met are members of a high school girls’ indoor soccer team named “The Wolves.” As the lights came up, the team was in the process of stretching and prepping for a game. Multiple conversations overlap each other, creating a sea of chatter from which various threads of discussion emerge, some silly, some deep, some personal, and some pure nonsense — you know, like the random jabbering you would actually hear had you wandered into such a situation in real-life.
From this whirlwind of seemingly random dialogue, we were able to glean information about the lives of these girls — their hopes and fears, their ambitions and problems. Similarly, in the ensuing scenes, slices of the lives of these young women play out in their conversations, unfolding against the backdrop of pre-game and post-game activities.
Director Michelle Murray Wells has assembled a talented cast of actors and molded them into a tight ensemble. Under her direction, they deliver 90 minutes of brisk action. Moments of hilarity are interspersed with quieter, more reflective moments.
Part of the fun of the evening is in the “real-ness” of the team’s workouts and the practices. Hats off to movement director Heather J. Strickland for her knowledge of the drills and for her ability to teach them to nine performers! Likewise, well-deserved nods go to the designers: Shelley Snapp (sound), Lance Hebert (set), Kaitlin Rider (lighting), and Alex LaGrand (costumes). (Speaking of costumes, we found ourselves wondering if the actors would be able to keep the team jerseys as souvenirs of this production.)
As is often the case with strong ensemble pieces, it is difficult to single out individual performances for comment. Suffice it to say: all 10 of these actors deliver first-rate work. In the hands of lesser talent, the characters could have become “types” or even “caricatures.” This cast, however, manages to deliver nine fully fleshed out individuals with whom we easily became prepared to empathize. Once again, the strength of the characterizations is in the “real-ness.”
The script provides memorable moments for all of the characters, and we left the theater with endearing mental snapshots of each: #00 (Sierra Smith), #2 (Ivy Evers), #7 (Samantha Matthews), #8 (Harper Cleland), #11 (Elise Kimple), #13 (Pimpila Violette), #14 (Shawn Morgenlander), #25 (Kimmy Fiorentino), #46 (Supriya Jaya), and “Soccer Mom” (Benji Taylor Jones).
From the Department of Picky-Picky: While this is not the fault of the playwright, the director, or any of the actors, we had not been aware that indoor soccer teams field only six players at a time. As a result, we were thinking in terms of the standard 11-player soccer squad and found ourselves just a bit distracted for few moments (at key points) by the math. Having pointed this out, we are, however, unable to suggest a remedy — our apologies!
Sonorous Road Rep’s production of The Wolves, like “The Wolves” themselves, scores plenty of “goals” and emerges a “winner” or (forgive us): a howling success.
SECOND OPINION: Feb. 16th Raleigh, NC CVNC review by Roy C. Dicks: https://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=9283; Feb. 13th Raleigh, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: https://indyweek.com/events/the-wolves/; Feb. 13th Hillsborough, NC WHUP/104.7 FM interview with director Michelle Murray Wells and movement director Heather J. Strickland, conducted by Wayne Leonard for “Lights Up!”: https://whupfm.org/episode/lights-up-2-13-19-permanent-archive/; and Feb. 7th Cary, NC RDU on Stage podcast interview with director Michelle Murray Wells and movement director Heather J. Strickland, conducted by Lauren Van Hemert: https://rduonstage.com/2019/02/07/video-sonorous-michelle-wells-and-heather-strickland-talk-the-wolves/.
Sonorous Road Repertory Company presents THE WOLVES at 8 p.m. Feb. 16, 3 p.m. Feb. 17, 8 p.m. Feb. 22 and 23, 3 p.m. Feb. 24, 8 p.m. Feb. 25 and 28 and March 1 and 2, and 3 p.m. March 3 at Sonorous Road Theatre & Film Studio (The Royal Bakery Building), 3801 Hillsborough St., Suite 113, Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
BOX OFFICE: 919-803-3798 or https://sonorousroadrep.org/tickets.
INFORMATION: 919-803-3798 or firstname.lastname@example.org. SHOW: https://sonorousroadrep.org/the-wolves and https://www.facebook.com/events/1098350160336992/.
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://www.facebook.com/sonorousroad/videos/281998065808795/.
2019 SEASON: https://sonorousroadrep.org/shows.
PRESENTER: https://sonorousroadrep.org/. VENUE: https://www.sonorousroad.com/, https://www.facebook.com/sonorousroad/, and https://twitter.com/sonorousroad.
PARENTAL ADVISORY: On its website, Sonorous Road Rep cautions, “Due to mature themes[, this play is] recommended for Ages 14 and Up.”
The Wolves (2016 Off-Broadway play and 2017 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Drama): https://www.samuelfrench.com/p/62099/the-wolves (Samuel French, Inc.), https://www.playwrightsrealm.org/the-wolves (The Playwrights Realm’s play page), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/Production/6209 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wolves_(play) (Wikipedia).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Study Guide: https://www.lct.org/media/filer_public/5a/ea/5aea35bb-2492-4865-b701-b007ff34cb78/thewolvesstudyguide.pdf (Lincoln Center Theater in New York City).
Sarah DeLappe (playwright): https://www.pulitzer.org/finalists/sarah-delappe (Pulitzer Prize bio), https://newplayexchange.org/users/2893/sarah-delappe (New Play Exchange bio), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/47770 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), and https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/sarah-delappe-514492 (Internet Broadway Database).
Michelle Murray Wells (director): https://www.michellemurraywells.com/ (official website), https://www.sonorousroad.com/staff/ (Sonorous Road bio), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm8678173/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://www.facebook.com/michelle.m.wells.9 (Facebook page).
Pamela Vesper has been a Raleigh resident for more than 20 years. A local attorney for licensed professionals, when she’s not in court, Pam can be found watching or participating in local theater productions or enjoying the vibrant Raleigh music and craft beer scene. She also loves indie and foreign films and was an anchor on the local cable show, Movie Minutes. Pam has an opinion on just about everything; just ask her. Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.