Sarah DeLappe’s “The Wolves” at ACT

No this isn’t about the frozen north. There are no Jack London encounters. Instead we, the audience, are invited to listen to a group of adolescent girls talk about maturing and the things that matter in their lives.

Director Sheila Daniels introduces her cast as the members of a girl’s soccer team slowly assemble and warm up for practice. They sit on the green turf that covers the stage, legs spread as they stretch, and stretch some more, a necessary preliminary to any action on the field in order to reduce the chance of injury. It’s also a time to let their concerns and other feelings hang out. Caught between adolescence and adulthood they haven’t yet quite come to terms with their changing bodies, or with the embarasments associated with menstruation, or with their relationships with boys. They mine each other’s experiences, learn more here probably than in any classroom or at any mother’s knee.

As the play progresses a new girl comes to town, joins them on the grass and makes her effort to join the group. We see the frictions, frustrations, and insecurities that typify maturing in our culture. We are made aware of life events, including tragic ones, but even these didn’t add intensity to the production for me.

The play received overwhelming praise when it opened in New York. It was nominated for various prizes including the Pulitzer, and it won an Obie. Here at ACT, the audience on the night I was there responded enthusiastically.

I, however, found it tedious. Whether it was the play or this production, I found myself weary of watching leg stretches and ball bounces. I’m not entirely sure what caused my lack of enthusiasm since interpersonal issues, which I usually find fascinating, were raised. Perhaps it was the lack of action other than throwing a ball around. The set was a reasonable facsimile of a high school playing field. The uniforms the girls wore were reasonable examples of school sportswear.

Given the fact that mine seems an unusual response to this play, I suggest you look it up on the internet and see what the New York critics had to say.

Through May 13 at ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., Seattle, 206 292-7676 or www.acttheatre.org

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