Courageous, laugh-out-loud funny and oh-my-mascara-is-all-over my face touching, this show makes me want to wear a Wolves jersey. From the moment we step into the theatre and onto the endless green turf we know exactly where we are: an indoor soccer field. This hilarious and fast-paced show introduces us to an all girl team of high school indoor soccer players who are striving to be picked by college scouts, all while dealing with the curve balls life kicks at you.
In between high knees and deep stretches, we follow nine girls through a series of Saturday practices and witness a refreshing portrait of American suburbia. These young warriors seek answers to the big questions in life and wage the everyday battles that come with adolescence; whether that’s being the awkward home-schooled new girl on an established team, dealing with broken bones and dreams, the pressure to succeed, or navigating team dynamics–all while just trying to score some goals!
This coming of age story has all the ups and downs of a good soccer game. Watching these young women struggle to win at life is a validating experience. It is refreshing to hear real girl talk on stage, vacillating quickly between details on the Khmer rouge and other war crimes, to periods and boy drama. No subject is left untouched. The audience is kept on the edges of their seats while watching words and emotions volley between the players.
The girls are played phenomenally, with nary a weak link on the team. The only thing missing from The Wolves were the tired stereotypes we too often see in the media. These characters defied the clichés to be fully realized people. We know each girl only by her jersey number and her relation to the team. These young powerhouse actresses do justice to the strong script. Each character, from the goalie with social anxiety to the try-hard ex-coach’s daughter, bears favorable mention.
My hat is off to director Lila Neugebauer, whose effortlessly athletic staging and smart but sincere directing kept us all engaged. The smartly designed set by Laura Jellinek, lighting by Lap Chi Chu, and sound design by Beth Lake and Stowe Nelson fills the theatre with that pre-game energy. The promenade seating, stadium lights and upbeat music pump up the audience.
Only twice did I look up from the action: Once, during an intense moment when I felt the entire audience lean in, and once towards the end, when I had to check if I was the only one crying. (I was not.)
The plot twist you don’t see coming leaves the audience in shock and awe at the honesty and strength of the characters and of the performers. This show is great for men, women, and edgy young adults who are ready to play ball with the full range of feelings. Worth it.