by Beki Pineda
THE WOLVES – Written by Sarah DeLappe; Directed by Rebecca Remaly. Produced by Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company (Presented at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut) through November 18. Tickets available at 303-444-7328, or betc.org/event/wolves.
We start out with a field of freshly cut grass and a bag of soccer balls. The nine members of a high school soccer club take to the field and begin to warm up . . . and talk. As the practice continues, the individual personalities of the girls begin to emerge. Some are classmates at a public school; some go to private schools and one is home-schooled. There are varying degrees of intelligence, self awareness, and compassion among the group. They welcome a new girl; they bully and tease each other; their conversations leap from topic to topic randomly. All the while they are doing warm up exercises and passing practices.
The favor and level of acceptance seems to be passed between the girls as quickly and fleetingly as the soccer balls they are kicking. The MTV short attention span and the over confident personal assurance of all of these young women is authentic and contemporary. I work in a high school and hear similar conversations outside my door every lunch hour. One moment bullying each other; the next moment working on the lyrics to a rap song together. Who is going to what party this weekend and which teacher is hot!
The common goal within this group is to consolidate a team, to win games, and to impress the scouts that are looking for potential college players which could lead to a professional career. For many, this is their only hope of a college education and a sports career. This creates rivalry between teams in their division and between team members who must all compete for the same pool of money and the spotlight of recognition. The newest girl who plays very well – #46 – claims that she’s never played with a team before. But when pressed by her teammates, she confesses that she has actually played in pick up games all over the world while traveling with her mother. She started out as low man on the totem pole and now, because of her skill and exotic lifestyle (she lives in a yert!), has suddenly become appealing. Secrets are revealed and concealed. Gossip is spread and ultimately they face a crisis that brings them all closer together.
As a cast, this team works together with precision. The script is written to accommodate simultaneous conversations in different parts of the field. To have developed the ear for this different kind of rhythmic dialogue, for splicing the different conversations into a tightly coiled braid, and to keep the individual voices and the thread of the story all running together so that they come out together at just the right moment . . . an amazing undertaking done right. It somehow seems appropriate that this same group of young ladies recently performed a series of scenes from David Mamet’s fast-talking GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS at a fundraiser. Director Remely has steered this competent cast as surely as the coach of a Olympic winning team.
You may think – “Why would I be interested in a girls soccer team’s thoughts?” At least that’s what I thought driving to the theatre. But you will be interested . . . intrigued . . . engaged . . . touched . . . and ultimately won over and cheering by evening’s end.
A WOW factor of 9!