I'm a freelance actor, travel writer, photographer, foodie and attention seeker living in the lower North Shore. Check out my blog at www.emmajaneexplores.com for more.
Welcome to the world of teenage girls
The Wolves have been revived following their sell-out season last year at the Old Fitz. This all-female play by Sarah DeLappe about a young soccer team manages to maintain all of the intimacy and closeness from its original season in this new mounting in a larger setting.
The premise of the show is simple. Week after week, a group of girls gather to play the game they love best - soccer. They share snapshots of their lives, their feelings, their insecurities and their desires as they train and play. Little by little, we learn more about them and we become invested in their individual stories as well as their collective successes.
The stage at Belvoir has been completely transformed by designer Maya Keys into an indoor soccer pitch with the entire playing space covered in astroturf; we, as the audience watch behind the playing nets. Her design is even more effective on the larger Belvoir stage than in its original intimate setting at the Old Fitz as the girls have room to really stretch their legs and demonstrate some pretty impressive athletic prowess. I can't imagine delivering lines during ab crunches and soccer drills, but somehow these girls manage.
Jessica Arthur's show feels even more cohesive and refined this time around, and not once during the 90 minute run time does the play lack pace or energy. She expertly weaves in the weekly games with bold transitions supported by a wonderful sound and lighting designs by Clemence Williams and Veronique Benett respectively.
The cast of ten is predominantly made up of nine young and fresh-faced female actors and it's a joy to see such youthful, raw talent on display on one of Sydney's most prestigious stages. Brenna Harding leads the cast as the team captain and gives us a nuanced and layered performance, flicking constantly between being a peer and friend versus an authority figure. Cece Peters is a standout as the feisty team striker, #7. Sofia Nolan is all earnest and delightful as Disney-loving #8.
Sarah Meacham and Emma Harvie are wonderfully quirky and funny in their respective roles and Michelle Ny gives a thoughtful performance as #14. Chika Ikogwe shows a lovely vulnerability as the anxious goalie. Nikita Waldron is alienating as the newcomer, #46. She nails the awkwardness of trying to fit in with a long established team, but it always feels forced and hard to connect with. Even in the final climactic moments, her emotional life feels stunted compared to those around her. Renee Lim has a meaningful, but small role; the impact of her entrance is evident.
Any criticism aside, though, the strength of this play is in the ensemble and these girls nail their group scenes. As audience members, we feel as if we're flies on the wall, privy to their secret conversations.
This re-mounted, re-vitalised production of The Wolves is even better than the first time round. The original production was solid, but had some bumps; this time around, the team have nailed it.