Friday, September 23, 2016

The Wolves **** A-

The Playwrights Realm is a theater company, now in its tenth year, with a clear mission: developing and presenting first-rate productions of plays by emerging playwrights. Every Fall they present a play by a newcomer (e.g. Elizabeth Irwin’s My MaƱana Comes). The lucky playwright receives a year-long residency with substantial perks. In the Spring they offer a play by one of their alumni playwrights (e.g. Anna Ziegler’s A Delicate Ship). The latest evidence that they have found a winning formula is this debut work by Sarah DeLappe now at the Duke on 42nd Street. The title refers to an indoor soccer team of nine adolescent — 17-ish — suburban girls whom we see mostly during their pre-game warm-ups and practice sessions. The play opens with two overlapping conversations, one about the Khmer Rouge, the other about feminine hygiene products. As the play progresses, we observe how each player attempts to navigate the difficult shoals between girlhood and womanhood, moving between personal concerns and the world at large. Although each one has her moment, some characters are developed more fully than others. I had some trouble remembering who was who, especially since they are only identified by the numbers on their identical uniforms. The numbers are often hard to see and there are strong physical resemblances among a few of the actors. The emphasis is not on plot, although there is a major offstage development that propels the last section of the play. The cast (Brenna Coates, Jenna Dioguardi, Samia Finnerty, Midori Francis, Lizzy Jutila, Sarah Mezzanotte, Tedra Millan, Lauren Patten and Susannah Perkins as the team members and Mia Barron as a soccer mom) is outstanding, individually and collectively. The ensemble work in their drills is amazing (and looks exhausting). Director Lila Neugebauer (The Wayside Motor Inn) certainly knows how to manage a lot people onstage at once. Laura Jelinek’s scenic design features an astroturf field, brightly lit by Lap Chi Chu, flanked by facing stadium seating. Asta Bennie Hotsetter’s costumes looked like authentic uniforms. Although I found the final part of the play a bit manipulative (and I wished that the armless wooden seats were more comfortable), my overall impression was highly favorable. I look forward to Sarah DeLappe’s future work, as well as The Playwrights Realm’s Spring alumni production — The Moors by Jen Silverman. Running time: 90 minutes; no intermission.


Anonymous said...

This is an awfully uninformative review. You state several things that make the show sound bad and almost nothing that makes the play seem well written. Could you say a bit more about the artistry and why it moved you to rate it four stars?

Bob's Theater Blog said...

I am sorry you did not find the review helpful.