Apparently I have accidentally stumbled on my theater week with young women as the central topic. First I saw WP Theater’s What We’re Up Against, a play focused on discrimination in the 1992 workplace. Then I took in The Mad Ones, a musical about a teenage girl in her senior year of high school. And last, but certainly not least, is The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe. This is her first play, moved uptown to Lincoln Center after a hugely successful run last year off-Broadway and a finalist for the Pulitzer (won by Lynn Nottage’s Sweat). A girl’s indoor soccer team is the focus here. They are the wolves of the title.
We begin the play on the field with the ladies stretching and talking as in real life. Multiple conversations happening at the same time. Where to focus? It doesn’t matter as this confident playwright introduces nine young ladies with distinct personalities. The topics? Suffice it to say that the opening dialogue travels from tampons vs. pads to the Khmer Rouge effortlessly, if you can believe that. Over the last five to ten years, those of us who love theater have been fortunate to experience another golden age of playwriting. The Wolves confidently joins the list with its exceptional dialogue and storytelling.
This play is so good because it makes you feel like you are eavesdropping on the team. Their insecurities. Their petty battles. Their gossip. And then there is a mystery of sorts thrown into the mix which keeps you guessing. Directed by Lila Neugebauer, The Wolves is an ensemble piece where every character is important just as it would be on a winning team. The girls are represented by the numbers they wear. #46 is the young lady from out of town and new to the team. The actress portraying her is Tedra Millan, having a breakout 2017 both on Broadway in Present Laughter and this summer in the Atlantic Theater’s On the Shore of the Wide World. She is only one of the memorable performances here. Great theater, superbly staged and acted; highly recommended.