‘The Wolves’ is being presented by Red Ryder Productions in the large theatre of The Blue Room in James Street, Northbridge. This stunning piece of writing is by Nevada born playwright Sarah De Lappe who was only 26 yrs. old when this Pulitzer nominated play premiered in 2016 – three years ago this week.
The season for this Benj D’Addario production is 20th August – 7th September, but this magnificent show is one of those rare treasures that was totally sold out before the season even began. Most nights had half a dozen people waiting for cancellations and so the troupe put on two or three extra matinée shows. Another immediate sell-out. Well done Ali Welburn on publicity.
The 90-minute performances begin at 7.00 pm.
The scene: A small town in Middle America. The action takes place in the Wolves girls’ indoor soccer hall.
The impressive set: (The design consultant was Fiona Bruce.) The hall’s panelled walls are sap green with ‘frosted windows’ around the ceiling. The floor is short green artificial turf. Stage Managed by Georgia Smith.
Fine lighting design by Karen Cook.
Composer and sound designer, Rachael Dease has created a most authentic soundscape with a blend of a marching band drum majorettes’ and crowd effects.
The nine teenage girls who make up the Wolves soccer team are seated on the floor doing, warm-up and stretching exercises. The goalie (Anna Lindstedt) is a blank faced miserable girl, who rarely speaks and seems to spend half her day vomiting. The simple chat soon turned to the topic of Pol Pot, the Cambodian dictator who killed 1.7 million of his fellow countrymen in 4 yrs. Occasionally one of the girls would interrupt with some inane gossip or health issues. Even though she was a fine soccer player, #8 (Caitlin McFeat) lacked confidence and was a sensitive young lady.
Dressed in a luminous Parka arrives #46, a shy new girl (Elise Wilson), who lives in an unusual house in the Hills with her hippy, tree-hugging mother. #46 is desperate to be accepted by the team but being a delicate little soul, she is rejected. She learns and mentioned how the team’s much-admired striker, #7 (Angela Mahlatjie) has had an abortion.
One girl seems to spend every minute shouting and ranting at the team (Molly Earnshaw). Is she the team’s captain, the coach or does she fancy herself as God? The girls continue their gossiping and bring #46 into the conversation. The squad are desperate to qualify for the senior team and possibly even the university team, however, #7 and one of their star players a tall girl, #14 (Tallulah Starkie) go on a skiing holiday. With the finals only a couple of matches away one girl suffers a season-ending injury.
They train hard. Although a good football player, with her little hair bunches balanced on the top of her head, No. 2 (Chelsea Gibson) is a bit mentally slower than the rest but the team – still petrified – bond well, even shy #11 (Sam Nerida) joins in. The clown of the team (Courtney Cavallaro) has no filter between her brain and mouth – she says exactly what she thinks, thus keeping the team charged up. Then one day they gasp as they see their weird new friend performing ball skills that would make Perth Glory be proud.
The team regroup and with determination and bravery are about to head for a major match, an adoring mother (Alison van Reeken) arrives to give them an emotional but rambling speech about how proud she is of them all.
Emily McLean is one of Perth’s most respected directors and here she was assisted in the directing by Equity winning actor, Alison van Reeken; together they produced this most memorable production. Every character in this play was given not only a richly written superficial character but also a deeper internal personality. Fantastic writing like this requires special actors and this story was done full justice by the exemplary players who carried off every aspect. Whether it was exercise time, dribbling or eye co-ordination, the troupe of actors convincingly created an ‘experienced soccer team’.
In this play, Alison gave one of the most moving performances seen in Perth this year. Even after a dozen performances the cast were reduced to genuine tears.
Thanks to accent coach Luzita Fereday, the actors mercifully all had the same mild American twang which they retained throughout the show.
Congratulations to Sam Nerida who is a member of the Black Swan State Theatre Company’s emerging writers’ group.
A faultless ensemble cast. True quality.