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Theatre Review Print

Sonorous Road's The Wolves Takes a Non-Stereotypical Look at Teenage Girls' Lives

Event  Information

Raleigh -- ( Fri., Feb. 15, 2019 - Sun., Mar. 3, 2019 )

Sonorous Road Productions: The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe
$22 - $16 -- Pure Life Theatre Company (formerly Sonorous Road Theatre) , 919-803-3798, Tickets , https://sonorousroadrep.org/the-wolves

February 15, 2019 - Raleigh, NC:

Sarah DeLappe's 2016 Off-Broadway (and, later, Broadway) play, The Wolves, is set on the artificial turf of an urban indoor soccer field, where nine teenaged girls come together after school to play on the title-named team. The 90-minute one-act consists of six scenes, each taking place as team members warm up for a game. As those scenes progress, bits and pieces of each girl's social insecurities, maturing curiosities, and dreams of the future emerge through joking banter, shared secrets, tentative friendships, and eventual team building.

DeLappe's play, now in production at Sonorous Road, has been highly praised for its structure, in which much of the dialogue is purposely overlapping to simulate the natural pockets of conversation teammates would fall into during rote warmup routines. This fly-on-the-wall aspect means each audience member hears different parts of multiple conversations in a kind of "build your own adventure" experience.

At significant points, however, the dialogue narrows down to two or three girls, so that particular plot points are heard by the whole audience. But even these are purposely unresolved and not fully fleshed out, leaving the audience to imagine what might transpire after the end of the play. The script also has been lauded for its avoidance of stereotypical characterizations of teenaged girls, giving them more concerns than just boyfriends, clothes, and gossip.

The nine cast members playing teammates in Sonorous Road Repertory Company's production have been well rehearsed by director Michelle Murray Wells and movement director Heather J. Strickland. On opening night, they confidently delivered the overlapping conversations with admirable pacing and varying rhythms, while working up real sweat in their strenuous exercises and practicing.

DeLappe's focus on what girls do and who they are when on a team led her to identify the characters only by their team numbers. Samantha A. Matthews scored strongly as #7, the team's star striker, whose streams of profanity and snooty manner with the others sets her up for an eventual comedown. Supriya Jaya gave number #46 a quiet mystery as the newest team member, who soon turns out to be a threatening rival to #7. As the smart aleck jokester #13, Pimpila Violette functioned as both defuser and igniter of tense situations. Shawn Morgenlander's #14 suitably clung to #7 as admiring sidekick, taking her side until the alliance unravels.

Elise Kimple's #11 was the serious team member, voicing concerns about world politics, while Harper Cleland's #8 was the beaming, ever upbeat one. Ivey Evers made a sweet conservatively religious teammate, whose focus was on knitting scarves for Mexican children. As goalie #00, Sierra Smith projected the character's nervous intensity, which eventually erupts in violent release. Kimmy Fiorentino's team captain #25 embodied her tentativeness in attempting control of the team while dealing with newfound emotions. Benji Jones, in a cameo appearance as a team member's mother, missed out on what should have been a gripping emotional moment with a portrayal that was too tightly-wound and showy.

Kaitlin Rider's lighting was appropriately bright on set designer Lance Hebert's chalk-marked green turf and added intriguingly moody shadows to the staged scene changes. Alex LaGrand's costume designs enhanced character definition with identifying details.

One staging liability was the loss of some key lines during the physical activity of warmups, exercises, and practice, which affected clear delivery. Some actors also spoke without proper projection, necessary even in small playing spaces.

Responses to DeLappe's script will vary, depending on whether putting together an incomplete but illuminating overview of the characters' lives is enough or whether its structure and intent fail to satisfy through too little substance and resolution. Either way, Sonorous Road deserves credit for staging the Pulitzer Prize-nominated play, allowing women access to worthy, atypical roles.

The Wolves continues through Sunday, March 3. For more details on this production, please view the sidebar.