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Cap Stage’s 'The Wolves' Makes For An Unusual Theater Experience

Charr Crail Photography / Courtesy

From left to right, Jessica Dahlgren, Ella Dershowitz, Chloe King, Tiffanie Mack, Jasmine Anne Osborne, Leah Daugherty, Payton Gobeille and Jessica Brooks in "The Wolves," at Capital Stage through September 30.

Charr Crail Photography / Courtesy

There are many plays about tough, athletic guys, but not many about a competitive female soccer team, bound for a national championship.

This month Sacramento’s Capital Stage is presenting "The Wolves," a script that resembles a war story on a soccer pitch, set on the realm of teenage girls. It makes for an unusual theater experience.

I live near a soccer park with three verdant playing fields. And weekend after weekend, that place is packed with teams of teenage girls — adolescent athletes, not quite old enough to drive a car, who like to play hard, and play to win.

This play — which made a splash in New York last year and was a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize — is about a team of nine teenage girls called The Wolves, and we observe these determined athletes as they interact on the turf. But we never learn their names, just the numbers on their jerseys.

The ensemble cast gives us a lively group portrait, with no single character dominating. The story emerges gradually and organically as the nine girls — who know each other very well — discuss everything under the sun.

These teens come from comfortably middle-class homes, and they are smart, and self-aware, but also inexperienced. They can be impulsive, or fiercely loyal to their team, or remarkably rude to each other by turns. And this focus on contemporary girls as they come of age makes The Wolves different from most other plays. The story gets into everything from trivia to tragedy, and while there is abundant rapid-fire conversation, there’s also plenty of activity as the girls run sprints and practice kicks.

The show runs 90 minutes, with no intermission, and the time flies by, which makes for a compelling ride for the audience. My only advice would be keep your eyes wide open and your wits about you, because you need to be a shrewd observer to fathom the finer details of the fast-changing, fluid relationships between these very active girls.

The Capital Stage production of "The Wolves" continues through September 30.

Read an NPR story from 2017 about "The Wolves."

 theatre review

Jeff Hudson

Contributing Arts Reporter and Theatre Critic

Jeff Hudson has been contributing arts-related stories to Capital Public Radio since 1995, with an emphasis on theater and classical music. He attends over 100 performances annually, ranging from modern musicals to medieval masses.   Read Full Bio 

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