Review: The Wolves at Capital Stage

Does this look like a soccer team to you? It certainly does to me.

Does this look like a soccer team to you? It certainly does to me.

Photo courtesy of Charr Crail

Showtimes: Thu 7pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 2pm, Wed 7pm. Through 9/30; $28-$40; Capital Stage, 2215 J Street; (916) 995-5464;
Rated 4.0

There’s a lot of smack talk in The WolvesCapital Stage’s new play about the dynamics of a teen soccer team. As expected with a group of teens, the locker room-style conversations are raw, silly, nasty, supportive, mean, playful, sexual, sometimes inappropriate and at times quite revealing. Just like teens—totally.

In a refreshing surprise, the girls speak frankly, using language usually associated with male teams. All the action takes place during a series of indoor soccer match warmups, complete with physical drills. The language and subject matters are a bit jarring at first—the “fucks” fly fast and furious, the talk is about competition, good plays, bad scores, teammates, friends, foes, family, periods, gossip and sex.

The authentic voice that resonates throughout this 2017 Pulitzer Prize play finalist comes from 28-year-old playwright Sarah DeLappe—just a couple years older than her protagonists. And DeLappe truly captures the confusing and exhilarating time of life when teens are exploring their boundaries, limits, their inner dramas, dreams and disappointments.

The characters are identified by their jersey numbers instead of by name—a decision that the playwright chose because she wanted the audience to respond to them as athletes instead of daughters or friends. It works—though it can be a bit confusing.

This is a stellar cast of nine talented young actors, each displaying their distinct personality as well as coordinated teamwork, all under the tight direction of Nancy Carlin—who also orchestrates the challenges of overlapping dialogue and realistic warmup drills.

The set and props are streamlined—an Astro Turf field, soccer balls, gym bags and water bottles—nothing to distract from the dialogue, dramas or drills.