The Wolves at Fresno State: High-level teamwork for an engrossing production.

40767815_10157666519629307_5525077437454483456_oSeeing The Wolves on its opening Friday was one of those unexpected joys. Fridays can sometimes be hard days to see a show because it’s the end of a long work week, I’m tired, cranky, and all I want to do is grab a Robertito’s burrito and curl up with a Regency romance novel.

But from time to time, a Friday night will bring a show that makes me laugh, think, and completely engages me. The Wolves was just such a production. Funny, sharp, and at times searingly pointed, The Wolves is worth the time you spend, no matter which night you attend.

Under the direction of Kathleen McKinley, the actors that make up The Wolves – an indoor soccer team of 16-year-old girls – establish a tight and buoyant ensemble as they carry on multiple conversations that eventually peak into one of those ill-timed comments that rise above the rest. The conversational, slice-of-life nature of the play requires more skills than is usually obvious: The cast’s timing, scene building, and ability to talk and listen at the same time is remarkable. And this, while doing soccer drills. It’s the type of interlocking ensemble performance that rarely gets the credit for its amazing teamwork.

(NB: This type of ensemble work is on display with all three all-women ensemble pieces I’ve seen this month, to varying degrees. Who says women can’t work together? Nothing of that stereotype is on display on Valley stages.)

But deeper inside the ensemble work  of The Wolves is the particular work of each actor in building a distinct and fully-fleshed character within the team. Ranging from sexually sophisticated to naively uninitiated, from intellectually precocious to generally clueless, and everything in between, the individual performances don’t ever fall into half-truths or easy-outs, but rather take their characters seriously and complex individuals.

42909269_10157741838304307_5107013051802976256_oAs each scene takes us further down the rabbit hole of these young women’s experience, we find ourselves in a world that can be very emotionally dangerous. And at the end of a week filled with the Kavanagh hearings, witnessing the worries young women experience regarding sex, sexism, competition, injury, trauma, expectations, perfectionism, and the state of the world, adds a poignancy and fresh edge to the play.

 

I tried hard to find just one moment to feature in The Wolves, but couldn’t. The ensemble work is too tight, too enmeshed to separate out any one bit. They’re a great team, performing an excellent play, speaking the truth of young womens’ experiences in an honest, warm and forthright way.

It’s definitely worth giving up the time to see it. It’s only 80 minutes long. You can get Robertito’s after the show.  


The Wolves runs Tuesday October 2  – Saturday October 6th at 7:30 p.m. Tickets and Information HERE. Featuring Madeline Ryberg, Nwachukwu Oputa , Ruby Arreguin,  Cassidy Leclair , Sara Marie Adam, Hannah Berry, Alyssa Benitez, Teya Juarez, Summer S. Session, and Karina Balfour.

Note on the subject matter: Just an FYI. At times, the profanity, the frank topics canvassed, the gross-out factors of body discussions, and the occasional aggression exhibited by the characters took the college-age young men sitting in front of me by surprise. My fifty-year-old comedian husband found it hilarious, though. But then, he tells dick jokes for cash.

 

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