Final Draft: The Wolves (UNH)

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

3 Comments on “Final Draft: The Wolves (UNH)

  1. Marisa Lenardson

    The Wolves begins with a punch, blasting upbeat music to pump up the audience as though they were a soccer team. Unfortunately, University of New Haven fails to sustain that momentum throughout the production. Seven soccer players jump into place to stretch in front of the soccer field turf that makes up the set behind them and the floor beneath. The Wolves combines the team’s warmup routines with the developing relationships between players. Together, the characters attempt to navigate the problems of the world and challenges within themselves. Although University of New Haven is successful at times to convey an emotional bond amongst the girls, their effectiveness is limited by barriers that go beyond a soccer field.

    There is an eagerness to eavesdrop on the player’s conversations, which vary from being about abortion to living in a yurt. However, instead, attention is mostly dedicated towards trying to hear what the actors are saying in the first place. Even though actors seem to project, it simply isn’t enough in the auditorium’s open space. Overlapping dialogue added another complication while trying to find the center of focus onstage.

    The team of The Wolves contains diverse personalities that range from archetypal to realistic. This comes from a combination of written dialogue, such as an overuse of the word “like,” and choices the actor’s make in their expression. Players #7 and # 2, played by Samantha Slaza and Erica LaBarre, fulfill roles as comedic relief in ways that are organic to their characters. Player #7 contributes well-timed, energized outbursts. Just as those outbursts are about to transition to the realm of “overdoing it,” her energy shifts into a confrontational scene between herself and player #14. Awkward mannerisms and blunt delivery uplift player #2’s empathetic guise as an extremely cautious introvert. Player #00, played by Rose-Emma Lambridis, rarely speaks but when she does, contributes a convincing tone of why it is necessary for her character to do so. The remainder of the cast are highly animated but overuse that liveliness; which leads to a negative impact on how genuine their characters feel.

    Technical aspects of The Wolves become noticeable during transitions between scenes. Each scene begins and ends with the sound of a whistle blowing to signify the passing of a soccer game. As the lighting dims onstage, a different upbeat song will play to signify the start of a game. Two spotlights move back and forth on the stage in darkness, insinuating that the team is ready to come out and play some more. The set of the soccer field is utilized as a background for title projection. These elements combined provide smooth transitions which make it easier to process the time lapses. Throughout the rest of the show, technical design felt minimal.

    Movement is a substantial factor that helps to convey chemistry amongst the team. They perform stretches in unison and run back and forth as a unit. The actors display their efforts as a team while distinguishing themselves as individuals by the size of their movements. At one point, a player brings out a bag of orange slices and the team leaps for them. They pose for a picture together, but each is in a position that embodies their character. The final scene of The Wolves leaves the team huddled in a circle, chanting “We are The Wolves” with increasing vigor. Eventually, they stomp together and move so aggressively that they break apart. Some fall on the ground, some remain standing, and together they howl.

    Despite University of New Haven’s production facing challenges (like being heard), one can still leave The Wolves feeling a sense of their community.

  2. 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. The University of New Haven do just that; all of the actors have an undeniable chemistry and deliver a humorous and honest look at what it’s like to be a teenager in the 21st century. Because of the script and UNH’s ability to work together as a unit (a wolfpack if you will). UNH’s production of The Wolves by Sarah Delappe is successful at 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 clear from the opening scene that UNH 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. The blocking and stage direction of the show cuts both ways. While at times it’s possible to believe you’re watching an actual soccer practice, it comes at the expense of hearing what the actors are saying. And what they’re saying is important. Wolves is grounded in current events and has great, relevant social commentary. Which makes it hard for those points to land when the actors’ backs are facing the audience, and they’re speaking too softly. It’s commendable that the actors performed such a taxing script.

    The show’s greatest strength is their cast and how well they were able to act in harmony with one another. UNH’s uniformity is what keeps the attention of the audience. The characters are fleshed out and at no point during the show do they lose their believability as a team. The script demands them to work as a pack and that’s what UNH does best; displaying their teamwork in their characters and as actors.

    A large portion of the play centers around comedic moments and the actors execute these moments with finesse. Their postures, voices, and facial expressions elevate the material and conveys that the actors are playing actual teenagers. They’re obnoxious, vulgar, sensitive, and often insensitive to the feelings of one another. Some of the conversations these characters have are grim, but because of their line delivery they’re funny. For instance, there’s an ongoing joke about a genocidal Cambodian general that lived in the USA. The girls refer to him as an “Asian Nazi” which is ridiculous, and exactly what teens would say.

    UNH’s production of The Wolves mostly does everything that it sets out to do. They present the audience with a convincing group of young women whose lives are linked by soccer. The actors are compelling as an ensemble; and despite glaring issues with their stage direction and audibility, they command the stage the same way a pack of wolves command the wilderness.

  3. 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 lens of a young woman. The sense of camaraderie throughout the piece, even in its 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.

    This production’s use of controversial 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. Its 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 seamlessly integrated the projections into the production. Their costumes were simplistic but also incredibly expressive in the simplest of ways. Everything from their sneakers to their water bottles were perfectly tailored 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 each other. The ending in particular was much more confidently 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 each other. 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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