Oct. 6 to 9, the College of William & Mary theater production of The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe graced the stage of the Kimball Theater.
The show centers on a group of teenage girls on a soccer team, but audience member Quan Chau ’21 was impressed with how the actors made it so gripping.
“I appreciated the complexity of all of the characters, how the actors were able to give each of them…their own personalities, the way that the actors were crystallizing them,” Chau said.
The show opens with the majority of the cast portraying a group of teenage girls warming up before practice, with everything from toe touches to partner stretches. The girls converse chaotically, as teenagers are prone to do, with three different conversational threads crossing over one another. The conversation ranges from light topics like pads and tampons to more analytical ones like the prosecution of a leading member of the Khmer Rouge.
The team has playing together for years, except for new member #46, played by Katy Shinas ’22. The players have a clear rhythm with each other during their warmups that is easily disrupted by #46. There was clear discomfort and awkwardness amongst the rest of the team whenever she spoke, especially when she made a joke about one of the players being pregnant. At the end of that scene, all of the team ran to get onto the field except for #25, played by Maggie Sheridan ’22, and #46. Little did #46 know her joke about pregnancy was especially ill timed as #25 revealed to her that #7, played by Payton Robinson ’25, was rumored to have had an abortion recently. #25 told #46 that she should be careful about her jokes, providing one of the earliest glimpses into the complexities of each team member’s life which the show details.
The chats that occur during warmups present an accurate dichotomy of teenage discourse: worldly conscious discussions interspersed with more silly moments like impromptu sing alongs to the Lord of the Rings theme. Soccer practice is utilized as a vehicle to convey larger, more sensitive themes beyond the scope of these girls’ everyday lives. The plot strings along a series of soccer practices where the outside world leaks into their individual lives. In turn, they work not only as a team in soccer, but as a team navigating through adolescent life.
Early in the show, the teammates begin to bond with the new member and form a greater bond with each other when #14, played by Liana Seale ’25, brings orange slices to practice. All of the team members put the skins in their mouths to take a funny picture together with orange smiles. #46 initially stood off to the side, but the team invited her to join the picture. While she looked clearly uncomfortable, this proved to be the start of her sense of belonging on the team as well as a significant moment later on in the show.
Audience member Erik Wells ‘23 thought the interweaving of stories throughout the show made the characters’ world feel very developed.
“I like that there were a lot of threads that sort of ran throughout the story or something that was really important early on, and then it would go away for a little bit, and then come back up,” Wells said.
As the show progresses, the audience gets to meet the characters more in depth. #00, played by Nicki Ganti ’24, although extremely accomplished by every conventional means in America, suffers from Social Anxiety Disorder, causing her to throw up out of stress often. Meanwhile the queen of the CAT scan #2, played by Ciara Curtin ’24, is chronically ill and has to wear a helmet as a result, though neither diminish even an ounce of her pep.
The play also continuously demonstrates the harmful effects of seemingly innocuous gossip. On several occasions the majority of the team engages in gossiping behind another’s back as soon as one of them leaves the stage. For example, when they thought #46 couldn’t hear the, the team pokes fun at her living in a yurt, but they forgot the name of it and called it a “yogurt” instead. So #46 sings a little tune as she impresses them in doing drills with her ball, “I live in a yogurt, my feelings don’t get hurt.” As a consequence the rest of the team simply marinates in the silence and knowledge that their joking around was at the expense of another’s well being, as well as processing the skill of #46 despite her having never formally played on a soccer team before.
Similarly many characters get into very intense one-on-one quarrels. For example #13, played by Laila Kennedy ’23, gets carried away with joking around about breast cancer and greatly offends her teammate #8, played by Anna Downs ’24, whose mother passed away from cancer. Thus a very heated moment ensues between the two characters, leaving a rift that is not mended until much later in the show.
The last scene opens with #11, played by Lucy Cross ’25, and #46 standing on opposite sides of the stage, hesitant to interact with one another for an unclear reason. Having only the two of them on stage is a stark contrast to the opening scene where the stage was filled with the rest of the players and their jubilant energies. #11 and #46 are waiting to see if at least four other people would show up so they would have six players, enough to allow them to compete in that day’s game. Soon, as the rest of their teammates pour in, all but #14 showed up. Though not explicitly stated, creating suspense and intrigue, the audience eventually can conclude that there was a car accident that took #14’s life, and this is the first game they have had since. Coming back together without their teammate solidified the reality that she will not ever come back to play with them again. Once more they begin to warm up for the game, but the death creates a stark tone shift from previous pre-game warmups.
At the very end of the play, the audience is taken to the apex of the emotional rollercoaster as the mother of #14 comes to visit the team before the game with the same orange slices her daughter brought to her teammates so long ago. In a heart wrenching finale, all of the characters contend with their shared grief. They know that they will be forever changed, but nonetheless changed together. They repeatedly chant, progressively growing in volume, ‘“We are the Wolves!” to drown out their sorrow and propel themselves to a better tomorrow.