THE WOLVES @ The Blue Room Theatre gets 7.5/10

The Wolves
@ The Blue Room Theatre
Thursday, August 22, 2019


The idea of the show is simple: an under 17’s girl’s Soccer team chatting while warming up for their games. The execution, however, is complex. Every line of dialogue had to be perfectly timed and every movement had to be implemented exactly as choreographed. To undertake such a performance is an ambitious feat and a feat which the Red Ryder Productions team accomplished with The Wolves at The Blue Room Theatre.

The Wolves gives us a candid look into the lives of nine athletic girls that most people would rarely be privy to. These girls aren’t defined by their relationships outside the group, nor do they censor their words, or fear the wrath of a supervising adult. Instead, we see them grappling with their desires to fit in with each other whilst also standing out, as well as understand world politics and deal with a tragic loss.

The beginning of the show was reminiscent of a parent taking their child to a Saturday morning game, as audiences stepped onto the faux green grass  laid across the performance space and took a seat among the stands. Besides the two soccer balls stuck in the framework above and the stern-faced goalie offstage, the space was bare. The lights went down and the girls entered and sat on the grass.

Lights up, and they instantly began chatting about topics as diverse as Khmer Rouge and feminine products. The tone of the conversation shifted as rapidly as their stretching poses, moving from light-hearted humour to an awkward subject change, resulting in a tense square-off when the ‘new girl’ made a pregnancy joke. Listening to one girl trying to explain a serious political issue while another is speaking nonsensical words, all while they are kicking a ball around, had the audience in stitches.

The immediate stand-out of the play was the cast. All nine girls, and Red Ryder Productions’ co-founder Alison van Reeken, who plays the soccer mum, performed brilliantly and it was a pleasure to witness the talent of each performer. Each character, all of whom are referred to by their allocated shirt number, created their own impressions on the audience, cementing their personalities into your mind and making you care deeply for them. The audience quickly became attuned to their world – laughing, cringing and crying alongside them.

Unity is an important motif throughout the show, and it’s one of the reasons that the show is so endearing to watch. The synchronicity of their stretching alone is mesmerising to watch. Despite their arguments, they can’t help but stay in sync. It’s what brings them back to the field in spite of the loss they experienced, and what gave the final hurrah, and the team cheer, all the more impact. Retrospective of their own tiresome journeys of self-discovery, they can find solace, strength and safety within their team.

It’s a privilege that anyone who played sport as an adolescent will fondly remember. The play captures the erratic conversations, the whispers behind someone’s back, the side glances, the teasing, the tension when someone says something off, the orange-slice smiles – things that are familiar, yet alien in adulthood. It makes you ache for the friendships you once adored and the makeshift family that liberated you from putting on a facade.

With the number of women in sport rising, this play acts as a stark reminder as to why it is important to encourage girls to keep playing. The Wolves demonstrates how girls are able to find camaraderie and support each other within sporting teams. The show will have you kicking an imaginary soccer ball for days, and their final chant “we are the wolves” will resonate in your mind for a lifetime. I’d recommend sitting in the front row.