To stumble across a pack of wolves in a forest at night, is akin to stumbling into Rumpus Theatre‘s production of Pulitzer-nominated play, The Wolves, by US playwright Sarah DeLappe.
This is an edgy theatre experience for many reasons.
Firstly, the set is an indoor soccer pitch with some of the audience perched behind netting and some exposed directly to the astroturf along the sidelines.
Secondly, this all-female cast of teenage characters bays for blood at numerous points in the play, which at times is thrilling and at other times quite chilling.
And, thirdly, the frankness of authentic, hormone-charged teenage vernacular hits you right in the face, much like soccer balls do in the indoor version of the game, and with the same frequency.
For those reasons alone, The Wolves is a worthy outing for reshaping what theatre means amid cozy seasons of old favourites and farce.
This 90-minute experience captures wave after wave of before-the-game chatter and stretching involving nine players, who discuss topics ranging from world politics to periods, and who interact with one another in modes ranging from love to hostility.
While the heady end of teenage years is fraught with rapid changes and insecurities, there is a sense that DeLappe has turned the content tap on more than full, overloading us with every conceivable storyline such a band of young women might encounter. In many ways, the “Wolves” represent the everyteenager and through them we are not only reminded of what our teenage years were like but we also witness the extra layers of challenge and confusion heaped upon this cohort by technology and the faster pace of life in general.
Interestingly, apart from some superb zingers dotted throughout the text (oh, we don’t do genocide until final year), this play offers very few moments of relief as the pressure starts building in the indoor sports cauldron. New team members, protocols about what to mention and what not to mention, and the looming realm of competition to be selected for entry into preferred colleges, all bring tension and sew seeds of conflict and growth.
It would be wrong to single out particular actors for this ensemble has bonded well and maintains an even hand with the work.
If you’re curious about emerging talent within Adelaide or about updating your memory about what life is like in the latter part of teenagedom, tickets to The Wolves are worth hunting, preferably in a pack so you have ready company for debriefing after the show.