It is always a fun thing when the worlds of sport and the arts collide, as they are so often at odds, especially during high school. This is exactly where Ad Astra’s debut play for 2024 takes place: The Wolves, written by Sarah DeLappe, chronicles the lives of a group of teens who play in a girls’ indoor soccer league. The story unfolds in freezing Anywhere, USA, where the team meets each week to banter about their struggles and their squabbles while being drilled in pre-game warmups. The Wolves premiered off-Broadway in 2016 and won the 2017 Obie Award for ensemble work.

The Wolves is an ensemble piece with a cast of nine talented performers (and a Soccer Mom cameo, played in this performance by Doll Hunt) who work together to deliver an energetic, larger than life performance which goes straight through without intermission. The play is a visual feast under the expert direction of Caitlin Hill and her team, and there is a lot to take in as the characters burst onto the stage using overlapping dialogue while constantly staying on the move. It is hard to believe playwright Sarah DeLappe wrote the play in silence, in the middle of the night, while her roommates were asleep.

Every cast member brought a unique energy to their roles and are to be commended for creating an authentic team dynamic while holding their own onstage. The half time orange dance sequence and subsequent group photo was a show highlight.

Malika Savory who played #2 created an exceptionally nuanced character who was both hilarious and sympathetic as the sensitive overthinker harbouring a secret. Aimee Durox as #8 had impeccable comic timing as a mouthy ditz who just wanted to get to Disney World and had the audience in stitches with all her lines. Congrats to both actors on their recent Matilda Award nominations for previous work. Sharnee Tones was impressive as #25, the captain, particularly with her physical embodiment.

The black box theatre is an intimate space, but every ounce of it was put to great use. The green astro turf floor covering helped set the scene along with the indoor stadium style spotlights designed by Cale Dennis. Justin Harrison’s sound design was subtle but exceptional, underscoring with drama without overpowering the performances. Special mention must also be given to the costumes which were incredibly authentic. This was my first visit to an Ad Astra show and the front of house staff were very welcoming. It is exciting to see a professional theatre company focusing their energy on the development of emerging local talent in a supportive environment and I will most certainly be back for the remaining 2024 season.

It’s not too late to catch The Wolves before the season ends on 9th March but tickets are selling fast.

Sarah Skubala