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By Bruce Chadwick

Originally Published: 10/09/2022

Sarah DeLappe’s play The wolves: ferocious, intrepid, feminine, a story about a girls’ high school soccer team, needs bigger claws and sharper teeth.

The enterprising look of women in sports, where they have to fight with men and with each other, and also with parents, is like a magnificent soccer kick in which the player hits the ball brilliantly, but hits the part top of the net and rebounds. far. It’s a solid kick that, just like the play, just misses its prey.

The Wolves is the name of the girls’ team, not their personalities. The girls have qualified for a national soccer championship and are practicing when the action begins. It starts slowly, also with all of them doing exercises in a circle and gossiping about people who are madly arguing about the war in Cambodia.

McCarter's wolves need sharper teeth

This is part of playwright DeLappe’s plan: to show character development among women, which is different from men. There are many discussions about hairstyles and clothing.

the problem with The Wolves, as I was saying, is that it needs sharper teeth. Nothing really happens in the ninety-minute play. The only real event is when the championship series moves from Miami to Oklahoma. Who cares? A kick is a kick no matter where you kick it, right? Why would so many high school girls be so upset about the game’s change of scenery?

McCarter's wolves need sharper teeth

Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for information

That is all. There is no actual game in the play, or pre-game drama. God, there’s so much drama in real sports you’d think the playwright would think of something.

I know this is a play about a women’s soccer team, but there are no men in the play. Some trainers are referenced but not seen. In fact, this is a team without a manager either. Who manages these children? Who’s giving the rah-rah pep talk?

All the actresses in the play do a good job. They are Renea S. Brown, Annie Fox, Katie Griffith, Mara Habeeb, Owen Laheen, Brittany Anikka Liu, Isabel Pask, Katherine Powell, Jasmine Sharma, Maggie Thompson, Mikey Gray, and Isabel Rodriguez.

You walk out of the theater not caring if or where the girls win the championship.

McCarter's wolves need sharper teeth

Do you remember the sports game that championship season, all about the annual meetings of the players and the coach of a winner of the state title? That sports play had real oomph. This not.

However, there are good things to say about it. The direction, by Sarah Rasmussen, is tense. She squeezes whatever drama is out of the script and works closely with the actors to bring out the inner depths of their characters. The actors, all the girls, do a good job. Even though they are only mentioned by their numbers, and not by their names. They grab their characters and through their dialogue and body movements they tell the story of that character (no names? Imagine if number 99 just hit his 62nd home run?)

The playwright has left a lot of space in this work, although it only lasts 90 minutes. She has done a very good job of character development and drawing her characters as different people. The girls have a lot of character swinging each other. They quickly spread the word that one had had an abortion. However, some of the stories of those characters do not work. Everyone is told that a new member of the team has never played soccer. Well, it turns out that she has and all over the world. Wouldn’t that information get out, and pretty quickly?

McCarter's wolves need sharper teeth

The girls talk about a good game, going over past wins and losses against certain teams. Playwright DeLappe played soccer as a child and her experiences come through in her game. The idea of ​​team spirit is there, as well as unity. A practically ignored player is invited to the team circle at the end and that is an example of that.

The Wolves needs more bite. If the playwright had dropped a 90-minute story to keep the audience interested, the play might have been more gripping.

I made up for it though, driving home and watching NCAA football all night.

Oh, I’m still afraid of wolves, but not these.

McCarter's wolves need sharper teeth

Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for information

Wolves will be on stage at Princeton’s McCarter Theater through October 16.

All photos by Charles T. Erickson

Bruce Chadwick worked for 23 years as an entertainment writer/critic for the New York Daily News. Later, he served as an arts and entertainment critic for the History News Network, a national weekly online magazine. Chadwick has a Ph.D. in History and Cultural Studies from Rutgers University. He has written 31 books on the history of the United States and has lectured on history and culture throughout the world. He is a professor of history at the City University of New Jersey.

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