THE WOLVES

Pacific Theatre, until November 10th

My Two Cents

 

This production of The Wolves is a testament to the power of teamwork, onstage and off. It is visceral, energetic and alive, with that same “guts and glory” vibe of a war movie (a comparison made by both the playwright and the local production team). 

The premise is simple - over the course of a season, a soccer team of teenage girls warm up and do their exercises, chatting about whatever is on their mind, their hang-ups and their own personal struggles. Sarah DeLappe’s script is mostly brilliant, the opening sequence a symphony of expletives, pop culture references and political discourse - with plenty of breadcrumbs dropped that will come back to haunt later.

Pacific Theatre’s odd layout can often pose challenges to directors, but seeing The Wolves staged here I can’t imagine it any other way. The physical choreography is seamless and expertly done. Moments when the “pack” is in sync are mesmerizing to watch. There is never a dull moment. There is always movement or tension. On top of it all, Matthew MacDonald-Bain’s soundscape is miraculous, beautifully enhancing the action or stillness on stage. 

Under Jamie King’s direction, the nine Wolves perform with such earnestness and enthusiasm that it was hard to believe none of them were presently teenagers or soccer players in real life. I have never been in doubt of the amount of talented young female actors in Vancouver, but it is incredibly gratifying and quite moving to see so many sharing the stage in one show. I could spend paragraphs on each one of them and in such an ensemble piece it doesn’t feel very sporting to single any one of them out. However, Kim Larsen’s #00 resonated deeply with me, particularly in her solo moment. That is the beauty of this play - you will see yourself, or someone you have known, in these characters. They are intensely relatable and fiercely unique. They are teenagers trying to solidify their own identities. Though the final sequence felt a bit out of left field, it was impossible to remain unmoved by the powerful performances and the space held by these remarkable actors.

The Wolves is a meditation on adolescence, on womanhood, on the pressure we all put on ourselves and our desperate need to be part of a group. It’s refreshing to see a show that presents young women as they are. Pacific Theatre continues to bring meaningful, female-focused narratives to the forefront by showcasing guest productions, this time with Rumble Theatre and With A Spoon Theatre. Kudos to producers Paige Louter and Danielle Klaudt, who also give terrific turns in their roles as #46 and #07, respectively. Be warned - The Wolves gets heavy, and it sneaks up on you, but you’ll feel like howling along with them by the end.

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-Lillian Jasper