Review | The Wolves: breezy charm

Jungle Theater, through April 29

Michelle de Joya and the Ensemble in THE WOLVES. Photo by Dan Norman.

The Wolves (Jungle Theater, through Apr 29) concerns a group of young women, 9 by my count, prepping for a series of soccer games. Soccer-haters (a category that includes myself) take note: you don’t have to watch these women play. Instead, they stretch, practice passing, do wind-sprints. And yak. A lot. We discover, among other things, that they don’t really know or particularly care about the difference between Iraq and Afghanistan; that their parental units are a pain; that they really really really want to go to the playoffs, in Miami, a city that has Oz-like resonance for them.

Stuff happens: they eat orange segments. They lose a game. One of the players injures her leg and is out for the season. (No Miami for her.)

But mostly they yak. And slowly but surely, these women take shape, vivid shape, emerging with distinct and distinctive personalities, entertaining us thoroughly.

Playwright Sarah DeLappe and director Sarah Rasmussen (also the Jungle Artistic Director) have done us and the acting community a great favor by providing an effective vehicle for these artists. Opportunities for actors of this age and gender do not abound. This is the great appeal of The Wolves. Where else can you see a youthful ensemble like this? My firm advice: seize the chance. See them.

You won’t be disappointed. To a person, the cast of The Wolves performs with great charm and energy. I was especially taken with Megan Burns as 46 (the characters have numbers in lieu of names). She is as winsome and sweet as sweet and winsome gets. Some people are born with authority and some, like Shelby Rose Richardson (25), have authority thrust upon them. And, as we do with Richardson, we adore them for it. Later, Richardson comes in with… Well, never mind what she comes in with. See the play.

The numbers rather than names thing confuses me. Who plays the soccerist with the leg injury? Becca Hart? McKenna Kelly-Eiding? Someone else? (I’m forced to look at the rarely reliable program pix.) Whoever she is, she’s terrific, poised but at the same time arch and angry.

But (there’s always a “but,” isn’t there. Throw a blanket over this man): The Wolves does lack definite character development and a playable plot. But this is only a problem if you allow it to be one. Part 2 of my firm advice: let your old-fashioned expectations go and enjoy The Wolves. It’s unique.

John Olive is a writer living in Minneapolis. His book, Tell Me A Story In The Dark, about the magic of bedtime stories, has been published. Please visit John’s informational website.

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