Section: Arts

KCP’s The Wolves masterfully blends humor and heartache

KCP’s The Wolves masterfully blends humor and heartache

Ng (left), Wayne and Buchanan | COURTESY OF FAROL SERETEAN

This article contains spoilers for The Wolves.

On the nights of Feb. 28 and 29, the Upper Horn Gallery was converted from its usual dance floor into the City Sports Dome for Kenyon College Players’ The Wolves. Backpacks, water bottles and soccer balls adorned the patch of green astroturf. The faux stadium-style seating transformed the audience members into proud parents, earnestly watching the titular soccer team warm up for their weekly tournament-style games. With the blast of a whistle, the divide between performer and spectator blurred as we were thrown into the chatter of nine high-school girls catching up on a week’s worth of gossip. 

The play opens on the girls discussing the sentencing of a perpetrator of the Cambodian genocide, as high school gossip meets real-world tragedy. Player #11, played by Ella Demak ’25, whips herself into a frenzy leading the debate and playing devil’s advocate. As one topic leads to another, there are suddenly three overlapping conversations that all have nothing to do with the original subject. This creates an animated, lively atmosphere as each cast member is committed to conveying their respective opinions with vigor. 

Playwright Sarah DeLappe’s expertly crafted dialogue captures the triumphs and struggles of being a teenage girl and the unmistakable sense of belonging that we all strive for. The girls discuss a broad array of topics — religion, selfies, college admissions, their bodies, and so on — making for an entertaining but also meaningful stream of constant chatter. In an email exchange about the cast’s ability to portray such multifaceted characters, director Charlie Sacha ’26 discussed the dichotomy of beginning to see oneself as an adult but still being a child: “These girls are old enough to know about ‘mature’ topics but they’re not quite mature enough to fully understand the gravity of them.”

Each of the girls embodies an  archetype that is uncomfortably familiar for anyone who’s ever met or been a teenage girl. Sacha praised her cast for their dedication to understanding and portraying complex characters with a deep level of care. “[They] dedicated [their] first two rehearsals to reading through the play and discussing the themes and the characters,” she said. “After [they] finished reading each scene, the actors would write down what [they] learned about their characters and what themes arose, [in order to] discuss them. Part of what made this show so easy to direct was that all of the actors really understood their characters.”

Over the course of their spirited pregame discussions, each member of the team begins to take shape. #25, played by Niamh Cahill ’25, is the team captain, exuberantly hyping up the girls with her commitment to the ‘grindset’ mentality as she leads them in stretches, warmups and drills. #14, played by May Buchanan ’26, and #7, played by Tiffanie Ng ’26, are close friends outside the team. #13, played by Sadie Wayne ’26, is the clear comedic relief, and her antics always earn a begrudging smile from her teammates. Wayne’s peppy range of expressions and voices paired with her oblivious attitude sent the audience into fits of laughter. 

#46, played by Liz Teleisha ’27, and #00, played by Simone Martel ’27, round out the team as the quieter players among the bright personalities. #46 is homeschooled and new to the area and the team. Teleisha portrayed the ‘new girl’ with formidable poignancy, and her timing was impeccable; she consistently entered the scene right as the others were talking about #46 and attempted to join the group’s banter in the worst possible ways. In the play’s penultimate scene, Martel shone as the anxiety-stricken goalie who is driven to the point of a breakdown by an unknown event. Alone in the dark stadium, Martel delivered an incredibly raw and authentic performance. 

On the morning of the final game, only two girls are on the field, and a forfeit due to the lack of players appears inevitable. One by one, the players show up, each one surprised to see the others. With the arrival of a tearstained #7 (without her faithful friend by her side) comes the big reveal: the audience learns that #14 has been killed in a car accident while she was on a morning run with headphones in. The rest of the team reflects on her death, grappling with a sense of grief that most people don’t experience until much later in life. As they realize how many people are in the stands, and that they will be able to play, the girls attempt to find joy in the wake of tragedy. Suddenly, Soccer Mom, played by Ellie Kahle ’25, appeared to proudly support the girls, which results in her delivering a deliriously manic speech about her late daughter. All the girls were left speechless, and all the audience members on the verge of tears. The talented Kahle somehow convinced us that she is in fact a grieving middle-aged woman with a deceased teenage daughter, delivering the haunting monologue in a deeply compelling way. In the final moment of the play, the girls huddle together, chanting “we are the wolves” until they reach a full scream, getting lost in the catharsis.

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