California Lutheran’s Theatre Arts & Dance Dept
Preus Brandt Forum,
60 W. Olsen Road, Thousand Oaks, CA
October 24th – 27th, 2019
When Cameron Crowe released the movie ‘Singles’ in 1992, Gen X’ers had reason to rejoice: finally, someone had written characters who spoke the way they did, who cursed and listened to the bands that the rest of the world were finally starting to embrace. Crowe, who’d also written Fast Times at Ridgemont High was lauded as having captured a contemporary pattern of speech otherwise ignored by movie studios.
California Lutheran University’s latest offering ‘The Wolves’ delivers a similar shift in language with over-lapping, contemporary intensity. Director Hailey Schaffner has refined a sharp young cast to deliver Sarah DeLappe’s 2017 Pulitzer-nominated dialogue with such fluidity that audiences might swear the team is just talking among themselves during pre-game warm-ups. The Wolves are irresistible because they sound so familiar.
Schaffner’s cast captures the cadence and rhythm of DeLappe’s language with a back-and-forth style similar to the way The Wolves kick soccer balls thru most of the show. This is partly the excellence of DeLappe’s script, and evidence of a cast who have perfectly gelled. The young women in blue jerseys might be right up in each other’s faces, but it is clear these archetypes of nearly every traveling sports team love each other.
When a new girl, simply known as #46 (Permille Klemetsen) is introduced, her country of origin remains a mystery, a fact that isn’t helped when #13 (Rylee Smith) claims that #46 ‘lives in a yogurt’ (a yurt). #46’s mother is a travel writer, so blending into teams has been a way of making friends. Klemetsen’s take on #46 is charming, both in her awkward moments and in showing how her arrival alters the team’s dynamic. Through persistence, a catchy little song and scoring a lot of goals, #46 becomes accepted by The Wolves.
DeLappe’s script is easily staged, and scenic designer Will Pena kept it simple. A stage covered in Astroturf, add a bench and a scoreboard and you’ve got most of a show. Similarly, costume designer Grace Phenicle kept ‘The Wolves’ simple, as the girls spend most of the show in their blue soccer outfits. The only glitch in Schaffner’s otherwise sterling production may be a lack of scene-change sound, cuing clear transitions to both audiences and stagehands, a minor change easily repaired.
When tragedy strikes The Wolves, Mary Kalfayan’s portrayal of a mother’s grief at show’s end is tremendous. Here Schaffner and DeLappe save their best for last, the play’s final moment a powerful example of where no words are needed, even among a pack of Wolves where words have always meant everything.
CLU’s Department of Theatre Arts & Dance
Preus Brandt Forum, Thousand Oaks, CA
October 24 – 27th
Thu, Fri, Sat at 8pm
Sunday Oct 27th matinee, 2pm
Event details and tickets: