Through Sunday, Mar. 3
Sonorous Road Theatre, Raleigh
As any soccer mom (or even former high school drama teacher) can tell you, it takes most adults some adjustment to hang with a group of bright, driven, and clearly overstimulated teenagers. No matter the size of the crew, at least two conversations are always taking place, and that’s not including the endless whispered sidebars, gross-out gags, non sequiturs, and crucial interruptions. Multitasking is a must.
So verisimilitude is in full effect at the start of Sarah DeLappe’s dramatic comedy, as nine eleventh-grade girls on the community soccer team of the title rapidly tick through elliptically connected topics during warm-up exercises before an indoor winter game. Talking points like digital freedom of information and snake handling stem from an impassioned discussion of the recent conviction of a onetime leader of the Khmer Rouge, while a consideration of tampons versus pads during competition leads a subversive subgroup to contemplate whether menstrual blood, strategically applied to a soccer ball, might psych out their opponents.
But those conversations deepen over the course of the season, as DeLappe checks in with the group in scenes that, like the first, all take place before the start of each game. As they do, this 2017 Pulitzer Prize finalist gradually discloses both common and very individual concerns among a group of sharply drawn young women during their coming of age. We watch youth’s inevitable naiveté intermingle with nascent cultural consciousness as the girls negotiate social and sexual insecurities, the tensions between their developing sense of autonomy and identity in the group.
Though the nine are only referred to by their roster numbers, director Michelle Murray Wells develops a clutch of unique personalities among the ensemble in this Sonorous Road Repertory production. Kimmy Fiorentino anchors proceedings as the resolute (and occasionally jittery) team captain. Friction develops between her and Samantha Matthews’s too-cool tough, the team striker, when Supriya Jaya’s awkward newcomer shows skills that challenge her position. Elise Kimple’s striking midfield player evinces a prescient awareness of the shifting sociopolitical ground she stands on, while Shawn Morgenlander’s midfielder finds that playing wing-woman to the team tough girl has its own particular hazards.
In supporting roles, Ivy Evers knows the cringing grace of a too-sheltered guard, and Harper Cleland conveys the optimistic cluelessness of a defensive player. Pimpila Violette gets laughs as the team anarchist, while Sierra Smith sees almost no exposure as the perfectionist goalie.
An unwelcome sea change challenges the group, prior to Benjy Jones’s shattering late monologue as a grieving soccer mom. But the resilience found in this nucleus of young women as they discover themselves and the world around them makes The Wolves a thoughtful treat.