Adolescent angst is a prevalent theme in TV; film; and stage productions, but nowhere is it more poignantly and tactfully portrayed than in Sarah DeLappe’s “The Wolves,” where she takes teen age girl talk on a soccer team to a whole new playing field. “The Wolves,” directed by Alana Dietze, is now in its run, presented by the Echo Theatre Company @ the Atwater Village Theatre. It is a show filled with stretching and convo; raw emotion and grit, with nonstop athletics in motion, combined with nonstop sharp dialogue, sure to get both the cast members’ and audience’s adrenaline pumping. The ensemble is comprised of a mix of true adolescent warriors, so credibly played by Kathryn Cronyn; Minzy; Ellen Neary; Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson; Jacqueline Besson; Donna Zadeh; Makeda Declet; Connor Kelly-Eiding; and soccer mom (Alison Martin), making an appearance near show’s end.
Some seem to talk at each other, while one, the awkward new girl, #46, (Caitlin Zambito), is the object of overt bullying, to which she rants and chants a catchy mantra: “I live in a yogurt; my feelings can’t get hurt.” She chimes in and adds to the more popular clique of girls, with complete non-sequiturs, not helping her case. But, out of this seeming chaos and cacophony of sorts, comes a delicate coming of age story, filled with profound insights on growing up and charming, pithy thoughts on their planet, fraught with dysfunction and madness. They discuss major issues, besides just scoring goals and boyfriends, such as the Khmer Rouge, and the plight of Mexican children in cages, proclaiming “its not the world we want.” And even though each cast member, a designated # on a sports shirt, seems to be an isolated entity/island to herself, each dreams of being discovered by a local college soccer scout (apparently off stage), and we quickly learn they are indeed a cohesive unit, rooting for each other, a ‘pack of wolves,’ as it were, just as their team name implies. One clever line of dialogue confirms this sentiment: “team work makes the dream work.” Each member has her own quirks & idiosyncrasies, and unique talents and positions, yet, as the saying goes, “stronger together,” as revealed in their frequent huddles. #25, the team captain, (Kelly-Eiding) shows impeccable leadership in uniting the team, despite all odds and competitive inklings, as they delve into sensitive feminine subjects, once taboo onstage, such as sexism, menstruation and abortion. It’s evident that the director and writer carefully treats each persona with the utmost of respect. The underlying, yet overlying theme of the show is loss, a shocking tragedy that occurs midway through, which ultimately brings the blossoming young women closer together and finally bonded. Even the sassy mean-spirited girl, #7, (Cronyn), is as sensitive and vulnerable, beneath her facade, as her ‘ya-ya sisterhood,’ than she’d like us to believe. The ensemble emerges from solitude to solidarity, as each character develops and awaits their next transition…on the soccer field…and beyond. One of my favorite genres are stories of formative years, bringing a sense of nostalgia and re-kindling of youth.
A striking performance, not to be missed.
Through April 22
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave.
Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays 8pm