‘The Wolves’ shoots and scores its second time around

Syd Pierre, page editor

Discussions about the Khmer Rouge. Hungover coaches. Orange slices. Passing drills and fights between friends. ‘The Wolves,’ a Pulitzer Prize finalist play written by Sarah DeLappe, has it all.

Following a high school girls’ soccer team and all their angst, the show premiered off-Broadway in 2016 and has since played at numerous theatres across the country. Most recently, it’s being performed at The Southern Theater in Minneapolis from Jan. 29 through Feb. 17 in collaboration with the Jungle Theater. ‘The Wolves’ opened at the Jungle Theater last year and received such positive feedback that it’s back again for a second run, with the same ten cast members and director.

‘The Wolves’ follows a high school girls soccer team during their winter season. They meet every Saturday for indoor matches, where they stretch in circles, pass, and dwell upon what it means to live in today’s society. Nothing is off-topic, until it is. Emotions and arguments move as fast as their soccer games, building in intensity so strong it seems that the air-dome roof will blow away. Their talks have hues of youthful innocence, yet the impending emotions of adulthood creep in. Anyone who has spent time on a team will find the rapid, overlapping chatter, occasional swear word, and conflicting personalities easy to relate to. Watching ‘The Wolves’ is like sitting in on an intimate conversation, where the words flow naturally and the plot moves like life does; unpredictable with the quiet hum of upcoming problems.

The team, consisting of nine players and one soccer mom, are only referred to as their numbers throughout the show. While matching in uniform, the players are individuals with their own issues to tackle. Throughout their Saturday games, their lives and surrounding conflicts emerge, but are never directly stated. Instead, the audience is thrust from the first scene into the middle of a conversation and left to put the pieces together.

‘The Wolves’ continues with puzzle-like dialogue throughout the show, with blackouts to represent the next scene and conversation. The relatability and realistic qualities of the show stem from the dialogues between players and their reactions. Body language is everything, and at times, the reactions of the players are more interesting than the topic of conversation.

The play is directed by Sarah Rasmussen, a frequent face in the Minneapolis theatre community, and one of the members of the play’s creative team, which is unique in that it’s all female. The intimate space at The Southern Theater is perfect for the conversational dialogue and the 400 pounds of astroturf used by Sarah Bahr for the bare-bones set design. Bahr also designed the costumes, which for most of the show consist of soccer uniforms. The minimal additions of jackets, headbands, and backpacks help give the audience more insight into the characters, as well as see them more as individuals without uniforms. The stadium style lighting designed by Karin Olson pairs perfectly with the set, and brings the right balance between high-intensity arguments and games to softer spotlights.

The harsh edge of adolescence and lifelike dialogue in ‘The Wolves’ stings with relatability like a blocked shot. Pressing issues combined with everyday problems make this show a creative masterpiece, with unexpected twists at every corner. ‘The Wolves’ shoots and scores again its second time around, and unlike that too-high-of-a-corner-kick, it’s not one to be missed.