In Sarah DeLappe‘s THE WOLVES, we listen in on a girls’ soccer team as they go through their pregame stretch and practice sessions, trading high school gossip, snark about their education (“Why would you, like, watch a documentary?”), and disdain for their alcoholic coach—a rapid-fire, scattershot mix of earnest support and toxic insult.
During the play’s first half, DeLappe—who is still in her twenties, and for whom teenspeak is clearly a love/hate proposition—does not cut her subjects any slack. The girls tie themselves into so many careless, clueless verbal knots that THE WOLVES might initially be mistaken for an anti-Millennial tract. But the streams of quotidian wordplay that link the girls soon work a similar magic on the audience: moment by resonant moment, we are bound in the instant.
Near the end of the piece, tragedy—unforeseen and, as the girls point out, totally avoidable—strikes the team, after which they reunite for one more game. The furious updates and competitive status checks give way to an elegiac mood of reflection. Losing none of their individuality, the girls find their emotional footing in the group. “We are the Wolves!,” they jump and cheer, and we are together.
The excellent cast—directed by Alana Dietze—perfectly captures the arrogance and awkwardness of adolescence. This Los Angeles premiere production of THE WOLVES—a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize—will be on the boards for another month.
Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays at 8 pm.
Sundays at 4 pm.
Through May 6.
Echo Theater Company
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Avenue, Los Angeles.
From top: Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson (left), team captain Connor Kelly-Eiding, and Jacqueline Besson in The Wolves; Besson; Kelly-Eiding and Makeda Declet; Ellen Neary (left), Katherine Cronyn, Donna Zadeh, and Minzi; Neary, Zadeh, Caitlin Zambito, Minzi, Declet, Johnson; Neary and Zambito; Zambito. Photographs by Darrett Sanders.