by Lynn on October 15, 2018

in The Passionate Playgoer

Amaka Umeh
Photo: Dahlia Katz


At the Streetcar Crow’s Nest, Toronto, Ont.

Written by Sarah Delappe

Directed by Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster

Set and Lighting by Jareth Li

Costumes and movement coach, Sarah Doucet

Sound and composition by Deanna H. Choi

Cast: Rachel Cairns

Aisha Evelyna

Ruth Goodwin

Annelise Hawrylak

Ula Jurecki

Brittany Kay

Heath V. Salazar

Haillie Seline

Amaka Umeh

Robyn Stevan

A beautiful production that realizes the cohesive connection of the players on this soccer team as well as their individuality. That team is a microcosm of the world they live in.

The Story. The Wolves is a soccer team of high school girls in Middle America. As they go through their group warm-up and stretching routine they gossip, talk about the news of the day, usually get the information wrong, inadvertently reveal secrets and confidences and regret the lapse afterwards, wonder about the new girl and how come she’s so good if she says she’s never played on a team before and they try to stare down their opponents and psych themselves up if they feel the other team is better. There are jealousies, grudges, on-going feuds and a startling event that changes them all.

The Production. Jareth Li has designed a pristine, beautiful soccer pitch of short brilliant green grass. We are naturally told not to step on it to protect it. The team in shorts, spandex etc. jersey’s with the number on the back and smart running shoes, marches out at the top of the soccer pitch, down along the stage left side then forms a circle in the middle to do their all important stretching. It warms them up and makes them flexible. Becoming familiar with the young women by their numbers and their foibles keeps the audience limber as well.

The team is lead by their imposing captain, #25, a serious, no-nonsense Rachel Cairns who later gives over to heart-breaking emotion at the end. She leads the team in the warm-up routine of twists, stretches, lunges and balancing. They are in perfect synch and one can imagine their coordinated moves in a game. This speaks volumes for the exacting staging of director Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster (plus movement coach Sarah Doucet).  Number 13 is the irreverent joker of the team and Heath V. Salazar plays her with an edge and daring.  She never backs down from a fight that she usually initiates. The goalie  #00 (a watchful Amaka Umeh)  has very little to say but seems to know all the secrets of every player. Her anxiety before a game makes her rush off to ‘hurl’. One of the star players is #7 who is both confident and combative as played by Aisha Evelyna. She has a secret that she doesn’t want shared and of course it slips out. The anger and hurt in Aisha Evelyna’s playing of her makes one suck air slowly. Robyn Stevan plays Soccer Mom in a small part of a mother who comes to wish the team well. This is a woman who puts on a cheerful attitude and a winning smile in the face of a traumatic event. It’s an emotionally gut-wrenching performance.

In fact that traumatic event changes everybody on that team. The body language, the awareness they have of and for each other again attests to Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster’s detailed, sensitive direction. The lines wiz through the air with precision as each player replies or subtly reacts. The playing is intricate and complex, like a game of soccer.

The team seems a microcosm of a world they live in; war, racism, violence, unfair competition, death, disappointment and loss. The team is multi-ethnic and the cast reflects that as well, including actors who identify as female and non-binary. They also illuminate joy, friendship, camaraderie, inclusion and compassion.

Comment. This is Sarah Delappe’s first play. Astonishing. She captures the language, short hand, swearing, idiosyncrasies, turns of phrases and awkwardness of some of these young women and the tough-minded confidence of others. Each young woman strives to be an individual and of course they are, but Delappe has us know them only by their jersey number and never by a name. I loved that irony. Delappe is challenging her audience as well as her characters. The Wolves is a terrific play given a wonderful, compelling production.

The Howland Company and Crow’s Theatre present:

Opened: Oct. 12, 2018.

Closes: Oct. 27, 2018.

Running Time: 90 minutes.

Tickets: (647) 341-7390 


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Lai Im Lancaster.. October 15, 2018 at 7:56 pm

Enjoyed the very well written review. Cheers