Scoring a Championship Performance
There were only two theatres on the Windward side: Paliku Theatre at Windward Community College and the Paul & Vi Loo Theater at Hawaii Pacific University, and for a very long time these two carried the performing and theatrical arts banenrs for the Kaneohe-Kailua side of Oahu. Theatrical opportunities were present but limited when compared to their fellow theatres on the other side of the Pali. Another area on Oahu that has a similar issue is the Leeward side, with The Leeward Theatre being a theatrical beacon for anyone on the West Coast of Oahu. Enter Kailua Onstage Arts (KOA): a new non-profit theatre company operating out of Kailua. It is a welcome addition to a rich tradition of theatre within the Kaneohe-Kailua area of the island, and adds to the already pulsing arts community there with its fresh vision, which is similar to town-based theatre company Evolve. KOA was started to produce works that “give voice to the voiceless – those who have gone mostly unheard because of their race, gender, sexuality, geographic location, or economic condition.” With an eclectic season ahead of them, KOA steps forward onto the Oahu theatre scene with a high-energy play in the form of The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe.
DeLappe’s script is stunning, considering it’s also her first work. Told in the periods either before or after their games in the season, the audience is treated to a living and breathing indoor soccer team. The girls stretch, warmup, and run drills while also dissecting their lives, the world around them, and each other. The dialogue in the play feels like actual, unwritten conversation, to the point I thought some of it was improvised. However, this realistic sounding dialogue is captured within DeLappe’s lines, and the natural ebb and flow of conversation course through the play artfully, gracefully, and sometimes chaotically (like getting a team of nine is wont to do, sometimes having three to four conversations happening at once). To not only capture the human condition on a often misunderstood, misrepresented/not often represented group of voices but to also capture the sound of these voices as well is an achievement, and Director Stacy Ray should be proud that her team, all of them, rose to the challenge with aplomb.
The Wolves is about an indoor soccer team of teenage girls. The Wolves are a pack, like their team name suggests, and they are ferocious as with each other as they are with rival teams at times. As previously mentioned, the scenes are broken up and staged in the before or after a series of games in their championship season. Staged in-the-round, with the audience on all sides, you may miss some moments when the team is doing floor work or being seated due to the audience seating not being raked. That being said, there are no bad seats: you may get a different show than the person sitting across from you, but the staging and blocking executed by the cast does not favor any one side.
Alyse Glaser, Kira Stone, Maggie Odom, Camille Perry, Grace Grange, Kaenaaloha Watson, Chelsea Cox, Lily Kim-Dela Cruz, and Ruby O’Malley make up the Wolves, and they deserve a hand for their stellar performances. Thanks to DeLappe’s writing, the characters all get their moments to shine, and the strength, vulnerability, and openness of all of their performances meant that not one of them rises above the other. A consummate team and ohana through and through, which only elevates the script and the production. A special mention goes out to Lisa Barnes as the Soccer Mom: she does not have a large role in the production when compared to the girls, but that does not stop her from touching the audience’s (and the team’s) hearts like any supportive soccer mom would.
A few technical things- The wig by James Correy looked very real and had me fascinated! The girls’ Soccer Technical Advisors Gwenette Higa and Donna Fouts have done a great job of transforming them into the team they needed to be. Kevin Keaveney’s set design is minimal, but what the script called for was an indoor turf field, and he delivered in spades. Kahana Ho’s lighting worked very well in the space.
A fantastic script, a production well-directed done by some of the strongest performances seen this year yet, and it’s only 90 minutes. Well worth the drive into Kailua, The Wolves is surely a production you do not want to miss.
KOA’s productions will be held at 50 Kihapai Street, at least for this season. The Wolves runs through (EXTENDED!) September 16; Friday, Saturday 7:30pm, Sunday 4pm. Tickets range from $20-$30 and are on sale online at www.kailuaonstagearts.com.