The Idaho Statesman Review: BCT opened its 24th season with Sarah DeLappe’s “The Wolves,” a teenage emotion-filled thrill ride

This review appeared in The Idaho Statesman, written by Dana Oland, 10/25/19. Click on the link below to access the original article.

It is the first production to hit the boards under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Benjamin Burdick, who took the reigns over the summer. Programmed by former founding Artistic Director Matthew Cameron Clark, the play sits perfectly on the heels of the U.S. women’s soccer team’s World Cup victory. But besides that it’s a deep dive into the lives and psyches of these girls.

With her play, DeLappe opens a window into the world of teenage angst and elation, challenges and determination, resiliency and surrender — through the microcosm of a girls indoor soccer team. These are the “good girls,” the A students, focused on the future while they seek to find their way and their identities.

Director Kittson O’Neil wrangles this pack of spirited actors into a beautifully synced ensemble through clear, focused storytelling. Dialogue overlaps, outbursts soar over peals of laughter at social missteps, and the characters literally are running around the stage. Through it all, O’Neil keeps the pacing brisk and direct. Nothing is thrown away; nothing is lost.

This company of 10 excellent actors — some local, others imported — keeps the narrative on track. Celine McMonigal, Amela Kardaza, Lindsay Mushett, Claris Park, Lex Gonzalez, Arianna Keever, Connie Castanzo, Marley Snow King and Emily Verla work as a tight ensemble as the team that exhibits undeniable and infectious camaraderie. Erin Davidson plays the one adult character in the piece, who comes in at the end of the play with an emotional scene that packs a wallop.

Each of these characters exhibits a mix of strength and insecurity. Their performances are raw, honest and very in the moment. These characters are resilient young women who take extremely difficult moments, personal setbacks and tragedy in stride, packing them away for their future selves to deal.

The play is filled with compelling performances by all, but particularly Verla’s #46, the quirky outsider who strives to prove herself and belong. Even in this bastion of girl power, her success comes at the expense of another. Snow King’s #7 is the de facto team leader who is all confidence when it comes to soccer but more vulnerable when it is personal. And McMonigal is #00, the emotionally repressed goalie.

Not only do these actors navigate their roles beautifully, but they do so while performing strenuous soccer drills — choreographed by Mushett, who played Division I soccer at Columbia University. And they never miss a beat.

For most of the play it’s a comedy, the kind that inspires nervous laughter that gives way to genuine belly laughs. It’s all punctuated by moments of extreme emotional pitch, shock at huge social gaffes and even tearful recriminations. DeLappe’s structure for the 90-minute play is fluid and allows the actors choices as they create their backstories.

Melpomene Katakalos’ set — a large expanse of artificial turf that runs across the floor and up the back of the wall — creates the world as soccer field. Raquel Davis’ beautiful lighting gives it shape and definition. Peter Still’s sound design brings it to life, and Hannah Read Newbill’s costuming dresses up the look of the play.

It’s a wonderfully engaging night of theater.