First Draft: The Wolves (UNH)

Please comment your reviews of The Wolves (UNH) here.

5 Comments on “First Draft: The Wolves (UNH)

  1. Sarah Delappe’s The Wolves, introduces us to characters that are quite literally nothing more than numbers. There is no insight to be gained from the cast list – other than the indication that the script will demand its actors to differentiate themselves from one another, becoming more than just a number. Fortunately for the audience, the cast of UNH’s showing of The Wolves largely manages to rise to the occasion.

    We are immediately welcomed into a chaotic chorus of high energy and bold conversation reminiscent of a public school’s lunchroom. And Yukich’s cast is just that – a chorus. There is something particular about how the ensemble of actors are able to establish clear similarities that unite them as a found family. Despite this, each individual on stage has clearly delved into the details that define them as a real person living a truth. All this while tackling a script that is extremely physically demanding combines for a testament to the cast’s abilities.

    Yukich made a bold choice by positioning his actors in a circular formation for the first half of the production. While it certainly notifies us of exactly where we are, it is at points a detriment to the actual storytelling of the production. For members of the audience not positioned where the actors can be heard, it is scarcely worth knowing where we are if the characters cannot inform us of why we’re there.

    At first, I was caught off guard by the choice to play into stereotypes often found in productions set in highschool. However, this set the tone for some of the comedic moments I may have found less humorous if I was set up to take the high-stakes high school scenarios more seriously – until I was asked to. The beats in which the script makes us pause and ask questions of ourselves are even more impactful because of the lighthearted guise the beginning of the show lures us in with.

    Ariana Lasher’s portrayal of #46 is comforting and bright. The first line in which she dances around a soccer ball and sings was one of the first moments I genuinely knew I was meant to have a good time with this play. Erica LaBarre’s #2 provides us with a much needed empathetic voice in a mix of equally needed hostility. Samantha Slaza’s work differentiating the complexity of a character such as #7, who clearly cares very passionately about things such as immigration and border patrol, yet immediately calls another teammate “retarded” does not go unnoticed. And while Rose-Emma Lambridis’ #00 rarely spoke, when she did, it was clearly motivated and drew the audience’s attention to whatever she had to say.

    It is this kind of work and dedication that makes me wish the actors relished in their humor for just a moment more. In the future, I hope they allow the audience to finish our laughter so we don’t lose any of the things they have to say.

  2. “The Wolves” begins with a punch, blasting upbeat music to pump up the audience like a soccer team, however University of New Haven fails to sustain that momentum throughout the entirety of the show. I watched the seven soccer players jump into place, beginning their stretches in front of the soccer field turf that made up the set behind them and floor beneath. Although I wanted to eavesdrop on their conversations, which ranged from abortions to being “cycle sisters,” I found myself too distracted trying to hear what they were saying. Despite the actresses projecting, the auditorium’s open space would leave any actor defenseless without a microphone. Overlapping dialogue also complicated finding the space where my attention was meant to be onstage.

    The team of “The Wolves” is filled with a range of personalities, some of which stood out as more believable than others. Player #7 and # 2 notably fulfilled their roles as comedic relief in their own unique ways. Player seven contributes loud outbursts and well-timed reactions. That energy shifts into the climactic arguments and envious outburst later on in the show. After tearing her ACL and returning to visit the team, she fights with player #14 and denotes the success of #46. Through her awkward mannerisms and blunt delivery, player #2 successfully presents the guise of an extremely cautious introvert. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast as individuals fail to convince that they are realistic high school students. This comes from a combination of an overuse of the word “like” and highly animated actors whose liveliness had a negative effect on portraying their characters as genuine.

    In between each scene is when the technical aspects of “The Wolves” truly become relevant. Each scene begins and ends with the sound of a whistle blowing, to signify the lapse of a soccer game. As the practical lighting dims on the players onstage, different upbeat songs play to hype up the team. Two down pools dance around the stage in darkness as the set of the soccer field is used as a background for the title projection of the next scene. These elements combined provide smooth transitions which made it easier to process the time lapses. However, there was an absence of any design concept during actual conversations amongst the soccer team.

    Movement plays a big role in portraying the chemistry amongst the team. By performing their stretches in unison and running back and forth across stage, they are able to display their collective efforts as a team. In a moment where a player brings out a bag of orange slices, their excitement shone through in leaps of energy and sprints towards the bag. They pose for a picture, each in a position that is a statement of who their character is. The final scene of University of New Haven’s production of “The Wolves” leaves the team huddled in a circle, chanting “we are The Wolves,” with increasing vigor. Eventually, they are stomping together and moving so aggressively, they break apart. Some fall on the ground, some remain standing; and together they howl. Though the production faced a big challenge of audibility, one can still leave New Haven’s production of “The Wolves” feeling a sense of their community.

  3. Wolves are social animals. Their success and survival in the wild are entirely contingent on how well they work together as a group. That logic applies in the workplace, family relations, and it is paramount to a play’s success in theatre. The University of New Haven do just that, all of the actors have an undeniable chemistry and deliver an equally humorous and honest look at what it’s like to be a teenager in the 21st century. This is directly due to the magnificent script, and UNHT’s ability to work together as a unit; a wolfpack if you will. UNHT’s production of The Wolves by Sarah Delappe is successful in presenting a group of soccer players as a believable, intricate team of young girls navigating their adolescence and the cruel world they reside in.

    It’s abundantly clear from the opening scene that UNHT took a comprehensive approach to their production of Wolves, all throughout the play the actors onstage are running around and jumping, often with a soccer ball between their feet. Their blocking is done so well that it’s possible to believe you’re watching an actual soccer practice. I commend the actors for being able to perform such a taxing script. And that is what most of the scenes are consisted of, soccer practices or warmups right before a game, the momentum almost doesn’t end until the climax.

    The show’s greatest strength is their actors and how well they were able to able to act in harmony with one another. A large portion of the play is centered around comedic moments and the actors were able to execute these moments with impressive finesse. It shows in their postures, voices, and facial expressions which really sold the characters and jokes. The play works well because these kids are actually behaving like kids. They’re obnoxious, vulgar, sensitive, and often insensitive to the feelings of each other. The conversations these characters have are shockingly grim at times, but because of their exceptional line delivery they’re able to be funny. For instance, there’s an ongoing joke about a genocidal Cambodian general that lived in the US. The girls refer to him as an “Asian Nazi” which is exactly what kids would say.

    The show is surprisingly grounded in current events and featured some of the best social commentary that I’ve seen onstage in a long time. Illegal immigration is brought up a handful of times and truly insightful points were shared in ways that children actually would say them. It’s unfortunate that in this portion of the play some of the actors onstage were speaking too low and their backs were facing the audience and I couldn’t catch all of it. This is a recurring issue that seriously impairs their performances which is a fault on their stage direction.

    UNHT’s production of The Wolves mostly does everything that it sets out to do, despite issues with hearing their lines. They were able to perfectly capture the teenage spirit and broadcast it to the audience in a way that is both authentic and heartwarming.

  4. The University of New Haven’s production of The Wolves was a unique and compelling piece, especially for anyone who’s experienced high school through the lense of a young woman. The sense of comradery throughout the piece, even in it’s darkest moments, managed to fully engulf our audience in a way that allowed us to feel as though we were playing a part in the performance. Not only did we develop the relationships between the teammates in the show, but it helped us to understand the relationship between these actresses themselves.

    While this production’s use of contriversial themes such as race, politics, and sexual situations were relatively jarring, the text itself had a way of allowing the audience to draw connections between these characters and characters we might know in our every day lives. They were raw, they were relatable, and and they were completely authentic representations of your average American demographic.

    This was not a perfect production by any means. It’s staging in the space lended itself to issues with sound and projection. It’s transition music, while fun and engaging, was also choppy and managed to take us out of the piece entirely. However, the set itself was exactly what it needed to be, minimalistic, bright, and seemlessly integrated the projections into the production. Ther costumes were simplistic but also incredibly expressive in the simplist of ways. Everything from their sneakers to their water bottles were perfectly taylored to suit the character as an individual. It was the little details of the piece that were able to pull me back in whenever I felt lost in the crowd.

    I, personally, was even more intrigued by the use of props to set the scene. At one point during the performance, the attention to detail was showcased by a bit of water coming out of the water bottles that an actress was carrying off stage. While this may not have happened in previous performances, I was truck by the attention to detail and ascension into reality that the actors were able to enter into. While it was just a small moment, it made me really believe that what was happening on stage could be similar to what happens on a real indoor field in the world as we know.

    Another thing that I found beneficial to inviting me into the world of The Wolves was the use of the set. The moment we walked into the auditorium, I knew exactly where we were. The green fabricated grass with white lines streaking across it sent me back to every soccer field I’ve been on. It wasn’t until the actors started kicking the soccer balls back and forth that I realized the stage was coded with the same turf that framed the walls. It gave me a sense of appreciation for the artform that the set designers committed themselves to.

    While the performance was not perfect in my eyes, it made me want more. It made me want to see what these actors have to improve on. I commend the questions that their performance left me with.

  5. The University of New Haven’s production of “The Wolves” by Sarah DeLappe was a unique and compelling piece, especially for anyone who’s experienced high school through the lense of a young woman. The sense of comradery throughout the piece, even in it’s darkest moments, managed to fully engulf our audience in a way that allowed us to feel as though we were playing a part in the performance. Not only did we develop the relationships between the teammates in the show, but it helped us to understand the relationship between these actresses themselves.

    Thiis production’s use of contriversial themes such as race, politics, and sexual situations were relatively jarring, the text itself had a way of allowing the audience to draw connections between these characters and characters we might know in our every day lives. They were raw, they were relatable, and and they were completely authentic representations of the average American schoolgirl.

    This was not a perfect production by any means. It’s staging in the space lended itself to issues with sound and projection. It’s transition music, while fun and engaging, was also choppy and managed to take us out of the piece entirely. However, the set itself was exactly what it needed to be, minimalistic, bright, and seemlessly integrated the projections into the production. Ther costumes were simplistic but also incredibly expressive in the simplist of ways. Everything from their sneakers to their water bottles were perfectly taylored to suit the character as an individual. It was the little details of the piece that were able to pull me back in whenever I felt lost in the crowd.

    I also found the attention to detail in this piece to be particularly captivating. At one point during the performance, the girls came from off stage cold and obviously wet with water coming off of their clothing. I was struck by the ascension into reality that the actors were able to enter into through their use of body language and careful costuming. While it was just a small moment, it was a moment that felt familiar to me in a nostalgic sense.

    While this performance had it’s ups and downs, it definitely left me wanting more.. I wanted to know more about this family these girls created within eachother. The ending in particular was much more confidantly executed than the beginning of the piece, which I can appreciate given the serious nature of the shows climax. The actresses found a beautiful way of expressing the true meaning of teamwork with a newfound appreciation for honesty and friendship through overcoming tragedy, which can be a difficult feat to accomplish in a staged performance.

    Overall, the ending of “The Wolves” left us with an overwhelming feeling of triumph for this team of actresses. While their dialogue may have been uncomfortable and unnerving, they did an incredible job convincing us that their characters were everyday people with differentiating personalities who were able to see past their qualms in order to find success, whether it was in a game, or within eachother. There’s something to be said for acting that settles us back into our every day lives and reminds us that we’re all living on borrowed time. Acting that tells us not to sweat the small stuff, and to appreciate what we have while we have it. And this performance did just that.

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