First an admission: The thought of spending an evening with twenty-something sensibilities and syntax was not one to which I looked forward, having sat through several this season which were self-indulgent and immature. Kudos to Delaney Britt Brewer, author. The work, while not entirely successful, was literate, extremely entertaining and interestingly framed.
Act One: Kay ( Elizabeth A. Davis) and Caleb (Josh Tyson) are having relationship issues. After living together three years, neither communicates honestly and their perceptions couldn’t be more different. Roslyn (Sarah Baskin) and Pierce (Richard Saudek) are not having relationship issues. They avoid dishonesty by talking about nothing even vaguely important. Pierce is gay. Roslyn is fine with this. Jenny (Megan Tusing) is the young, nubile sister of someone else at the party they’re attending. She’s all the more tempting to Caleb for being loosened by Ecstasy which he samples. We swing back and forth from the party to Kay and Caleb on the way home…when they hit a wolf in the road—end of innocence? Admissions and choices are made.
Act Two: Julie (Megan Hart) and Elliot (Doug Roland) are sister and brother waiting for midnight in order to take care of a last request. Elliot is on a drunken binge. Still, he tries to connect with his sister in a kind of sullen, insecure fashion. Julie has completely withdrawn from contact with any other caring human. An unexpected appearance by Sasha (Julie Fitzpatrick), Julie’s lesbian ex-lover indirectly coalesces Julie’s immediate past and possible future. An appearance by a wolf is of slightly obtuse significance. I have theories.
Act Three: Sasha and Caleb have married. She’s chosen conventionality over her former life and has replaced Kay in supporting Caleb. They communicate with their child (and each other) by posted messages beginning and ending with: “Sweetheart” and “Love you” in a singularly rhythmic and choreographed fashion. Will they part or continue circling? The child’s name is-wait for it—Wolf (Vikki Vasilili Eugenis).
Believe me, you’ve lost nothing by my allusions to plot. It’s the language and exposition of relationships here that make it worthwhile. We’re agreeably along for this ride without ever really getting involved with the characters, which is oddly fascinating. The playwright, Delaney Britt Brewer, communicates as much or more by what she doesn’t have her characters say aloud as by what they do say. One can’t help but imagine a play by this author in which she applies her originality and talent, but also gives us people about whom we can care.
This is a good group of young actors all of whom are talented. Stand-outs include: Josh Tyson—particularly spirited in his physicality. Richard Saudek—particularly fine in a role portrayed like a hand across satin, all surface shine. His evocation Pierce’s ironic point of view is terrific. Megan Tusing—a bit like a young Mary Louise Parker. Her spoiled child sexuality and perfect “high” are artfully represented. Megan Hart and Doug Roland—who play off one another like an experienced tag team. These two interact in perhaps the most real and telling part of the evening. Roland is unembarrassed by his confused and youthful character. Hart is compelling in her taut withholding.
Director Mike Klar serves the piece extremely well. It was admirably staged in the round. Because of the arch content of a great deal of the writing, individual characters are less well defined than those to which we’re accustomed—a stylistic choice. Klar worked instead with inflection, timing and gestures. His aptitude is evident. Like the playwright, I’d beinterested in seeing his talents applied to a more empathetic piece.
Maruit Evans Set & Lighting are quite wonderful. In fact, the entire production design, credited here or in concert, is attractive, original, and effective. A circular “roof” surrounded by white branches (and stars) has great charm, the carrying of a model car to indicate driving works beautifully and the appearance and use of a house in the last act is inspired. Heather Klar’s Costume Design is appropriate. Her unconventional wolf suit is marvelous. John Colaruotolo’s score is so apt and integral one rarely hears it. That’s a compliment.
Clearly kids with guns is a company that should be followed. This is a play worth seeing by a playwright worth watching.
Wolves by Delaney Britt Brewer
Directed by Mike Klar
Presented by kids with guns
At 59E59St Theaters
59 East 59 Street
212 279 4200
Through August 21
Photos by David Potes, from top:
L-R: Josh Tyson and Elizabeth A. Davis
L-R: Richard Saudek and Sarah Baskin
L-R: Elizabeth A. Davis and Josh Tyson