BWW Review: Syracuse Stage Presents THE WOLVES at the Storch Theater
Syracuse Stage along with the Syracuse Department of Drama brings a captivating and raw production of Sarah DeLappe's The Wolves under the impressive direction of Melissa Rain Anderson. The production features numerous Syracuse University student actors along with members of the Actors' Equity Association as they bring the Pulitzer Prize nominated drama about nine young women soccer players to life with such immense intensity and talent. The production is intense, chilling, and brilliant.
This production is part of the Syracuse Stage season but, it is located in the Storch Theater in the Syracuse Stage/ SU Drama Complex which is often used for the Syracuse University student productions.
The play is set on an indoor soccer field. As the theater already features seats that resemble stadium seating and allows for additional seating for general admission seating the Storch is an ideal location for this show. The audience truly feels like they are in an indoor soccer field in the suburbs. Scenic designer Anya Klepikov utilizes the design of the Storch to effortlessly create the soccer field in stadium like seating. Nathan W. Scheuer's lighting design creates the feel of an indoor soccer stadium while playing on the intense topics and emotions in this gripping story.
The play centers around 16 and 17-year-old girls on a soccer team. It takes place over the course of six wintry Saturdays as they young women warm-up for each match. The girls stretch and prepare for the game and during the warm-ups they have no problem speaking their minds on many various topics. Many of the girls have grown up together and played indoor soccer together for quite a few years. Their topics of conversation range from Cambodian history, weekend plans, boyfriends, and other girl topics often heard in the locker room. The girls have no problem poking fun at each other, making some inappropriate jokes, and spilling some secrets - it is the true teenage girl in suburban America. The conversations are completely uncensored and does not hold back. The script and portrayal are completely real and raw, truly thought-provoking. The truth of the play is what makes it so chilling, it truly is the voice of a teenage girl intense, uncensored, honest, and emotional. These young women are all in search of an identity and where they fit in on the field, on the team, and in life.
The show features quick and often overlapping dialogue all while swiftly kicking a soccer ball as these nine women reveal issues that often face young girls in their teenage adolescent years. The strong and brilliant cast captures these individual and unique characters with such consistency and intensity that you often forget that it is only a play. The realness and familiarity of these types of teenage girls is what makes this play so gripping, shocking, and brilliant as the audience is trying to figure out each character.
This is definitely an ensemble production and the actors showcase immense chemistry, talent, and charm as each and everyone delivers a truly captivating portrayal of their character. The young women never really are given names as the players refer to each other as the numbers on their jerseys (costume design Suzanne Chesney).
Equity actress Emily Shackelford takes on the role of soccer player #11 and her confidence, impeccable line delivery, and intensity takes center stage. Assistant director of the production and Equity actress Rachael Logue takes on the role of player #25 the team Captain delivers a powerful, consistent, and inspiring performance as she portrays the determined, hard-working, and intense leader. Cassia Thompson, an Equity actress, portrays player #13 showing off her comedic timing, spunk, and spot on facial expressions.
The rest of the soccer team members features Syracuse University student actors. Emily Rudolph takes in the role of player #2 and probably the most sensitive character. Rudolph's portrayal truly standouts as she takes on this sensitive girl dealing with body image issues. Camila Pentland portrays player #8 and plays the over dramatic, quirky, and Hobbit loving teenage girl perfectly with her spot-on comedic performance. Ali Whitwell takes on the role of the new soccer member, player #46. Whitwell's portrayal of the socially awkward but talented homeschooled girl that just joined the team is a highlight of the production. Alessandra Casanova plays player #14 and Maggie McPherson portrays player #7 the two actresses showcase great chemistry and the characters appear to best of friends, incredibly comfortable with each other, and encourage each other with their mouthy energetic personalities. Claire David portrays the goalie player #00 and unlike the other roles does not speak as often. However, it is her facial expressions and quite intense portrayal that makes her performance a standout.
Allison Gabriel is not part of the team and is only in the final scene at the end of the play but, she delivers the most real, raw, and intense monologue of the whole show. Her performance was absolutely chilling and emotional.
The Wolves is unlike anything that I have ever seen as it digs deep into the voice of the teenage girl, her struggles, her goals, her thoughts, her ambitions, and her longing for acceptance. The entire ensemble cast delivers incredibly memorable and breathtaking performances in this real and raw play that does not hold back.
Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission.
The Syracuse Stage production co-produced with the Syracuse University Department of Drama of The Wolves runs through February 16, 2020 at Syracuse Stage in the Storch Theater in Syracuse, New York. For tickets and information on this production and upcoming productions at Syracuse Stage here for information on the Syracuse Department of Drama productions click here.