A play about a soccer team of 17-year old girls could have been misplaced or misconstrued as a piece for a same-age audience. However, DeLappe’s skill as a writer and a considered and clever production means that Silo Theatre’s The Wolves will resonate with audiences of all ages and gender. The dialogue and setup translates comfortably from the original US to NZ and the cast injects a familiar Pacific tone. It makes for a powerful evening for Auckland audiences.
Starting life as a series of overheard conversations captured on an iPhone in New York, The Wolves is an insightful examination of what it is to find your place in the world. Soccer is the prism through which the audience views and comes to understand the inner and public world of the girls. So, The Loft at Auckland’s Q Theatre is bedecked in astro turf with opposing grandstands for the audience as the action unfolds in the middle.
PJ Harvey, Debbie Harry, Lorde and Bjork – to name a few – form the musical background pre-show, and the audience is treated to an engaging and physical performance from the ensemble cast from the kick-off. The combination of being in a team and becoming a woman provides the platform for all the characters, referred to by their team number, to expose and explore themselves. Rapid-fire, overlapping conversations are punctuated by awkward pauses as gaffs reveal the lines that perhaps shouldn’t have been crossed.
Subjects veer from sanitary products to the geopolitical, as the team goes through warm-ups pre-match. Zingers and jokes fly, as the girls stretch and prep for each game, newcomers struggle to find their place while long-standing team members try to maintain their status. The characters are well drawn and acted by Maia Baillie, Aisling Baker, Theo Keane, Alex King, Miriana McGechie, Akinehi Munroe, Queenie Samuel, Siana Vagana and Tatum Warren-Ngata – so much so that my wife said at one point she felt as though she had been to school with all of them!
Far from inane, the players’ struggles to define themselves and step into adulthood, as the outside world comes crashing in, reveal universal truths that visibly moved many members of the audience.
Impeccably acted, with many newcomers showing an impressive level of craft and comfort onstage, and directed with a light touch by Sophie Roberts, The Wolves is an inspired and inspiring production.
Reviewed by Mike Hales.