Sarah DeLappe’s play “The Wolves” is taking the theatre world by storm. Originally written in 2014 and premiered in 2016 it has quickly become known for its musical dialogue and all-female cast. The play has won numerous awards including being a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The play has received productions throughout the US since it first premiered, including a staged reading at our very own Great Plains Theatre Conference and a production at West Side High School here in Omaha. The theatre department at UNO has chosen this particular play to round out their 2018/2019 season of all female-playwrights. In a world where women are still fighting for gender parity, especially in fields like the arts, it is refreshing to see a play written by a woman with a cast full of women.
The play is set in a suburb somewhere near you in an indoor soccer field. The girls are seen warming up getting ready for their games in each scene. They stretch, run, pass the ball and talk. And while there is a plot to this play, it’s not exactly linear. You see the girls get ready for the games and you hear how the games worked out. Various events happen to each character and there is a final event that brings them all together. But it is in their talking that the true beauty of this play is manifested. They talk about boys, about world events, about their periods, and about their hopes and dreams for soccer and other pieces of their lives. The characters have been together for awhile and this closeness is manifested through the cast at UNO. In a play that is as technically demanding as this one (none of the actors are actually soccer players) the cast has spent extra time together learning how to play soccer. These women feel like a team. As they lounge about the stage prepping for games they chat with each other and draw closer to each other. The organic movement helps the audience feel like they are peeking in on what it must be like to watch teenage girls get ready for a soccer game. The simple, raised green circle, designed by Robbie Jones, further emphasizes this idea of getting to peek into a world we wouldn’t normally inhabit.
Even though the dialogue overlaps and everything seems to move quickly each character has a distinct personality. The actors do a great job giving each of their characters something to make them unique. Abby Cameron as #46 does a particularly nice job of this as the new girl who just wants a chance to fit in. She is so sincere in her desire and yet so awkward. It’s adorable and painful to watch. Kumiko Adachi stands out as #2 in her innocence and in her sincere love of all the other players. All of the actors do a wonderful job of creating characters that truly shine in this play, and they each deserve a shout out.
There are moments of deep feeling in this play, and the transition between light and dark is skillfully navigated by the actors and their director, Cindy Melby Phaneuf. This is a play that understands that light and dark are bedfellows and truly great plays must engage with both. This was a perfect choice to wrap up a season of female playwrights. Its powerful all women cast will make you dream of a future where plays like this are produced on a regular basis.
The Wolves is playing at UNO Weber Fine Arts from April 10-13 and 17-20th. Tickets are $16 general admission. UNO students are free. You can reserve tickets online at https://www.etix.com/ticket/v/12949/university-of-nebraska-Omaha or walk up to the box office on the day of show.
-By Tamar Neumann