"Thoughts No One Asked For"
I saw Wolf Play last night on what happened to be my 41st birthday, which comes with it's own silly smear of expectations. I had seen positive posts from my Columbia classmate Taeuk about it- so I went in ready for action.
Wolf Play @ MCC has a LOT going for it. A small troupe of actors that double as their own fly system operators (exposed on the side of the stage) and live sound engineers (ringing bells for phones) really brings me back to the magic of what a group of committed folks can accomplish with a black box space. Who needs an actual answering machine when you have a lamp and a microphone? Great stuff.
THOUGHTS (spoilers ahead):
Wanted more of:
The main character plays a 6 year old adopted boy. As an actor he is a full grown man, with a delicate paper maché boy puppet attached to his magnetic shoe fronts. I loved all the tenderness that was shown to this puppet, and in my imaginative mind I wanted to ALWAYS consider him real when he was moved about, instead of hastily set aside, which happened a few times.
Wanted less of:
1. Casually racist comments about Asian people. Don't think I need to say more than that here.
2. Some blocking sequences where two characters were on the phone (to two different people) were overlapping in the same room. Once I "got" the convention it was interesting, but it was over-blocked to the point of choreography before I even knew what was happening. A bit "less is more" could've been useful there.
3. The "conflict" seemed pretty hammered on to an already very engaging story- I was much more invested in 진우 Jinu's relationship to his new surroundings and developing relationships with his moms that that the Uncle character getting jealous didn't sit right/feel necessary.
4. I felt like they tied it up to quickly at the end. I needed about 10 more minutes of story instead of the crash bang courtroom into the repeated opening monologue. For example, what would happen in a scene where the original adoptive father "wins" back Jinu, and realizes that he wasn't what he wanted after all? A cereal scene between the two of them would have been SO INTERESTING to compare with our morning routine that's been established.
What happens to the boxer when Jinu leaves?
Does the uncle/brother start to be the one leaving unanswered voicemails as the new outcast?
Just some thoughts!
Just do yourself a favor and go SEE THIS DAMN SHOW.
I took my partner to see this with me, and after years of living in NYC and seeing all manner of productions we agreed that the top 2 shows we've seen are:
To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway with Jeff Daniels
SET: This show is immersive: meaning much of the audience sits at tables in a recreated restaurant, and the actors walk, dance, motorcycle on the tops of those tables. Think elevated runway. You enter the completely surrounding "restaurant" set via a spherical dome that was directly transported from a refugee camp that was bulldozed by the French Authorities in 2015. That is the place and time you are about to experience.
I recommend sitting on the "cushion" seats that line the interior walls- if you're physically able to manage getting down, then up again, off the floor. They're cheapest, and you get to enjoy the show more at eye level instead of looking up.
Our own worldwide negligence dealing with refugee populations.
What it means to live alongside those who speak, worship and come from places you have NO experience with.
What true compassion looks like on the smallest scale, and how often authorities express none of it.
The performances were absolutely excellent across the board. But you'll find the narrator and the restauranteur the most harrowingly beautiful. This show is the best example of layered dialogue I've ever witnessed - meaning two or three conversations can happen at once and you're never confused or disoriented by it. It just serves to make the silences all the more effective.
Not one moment wasted. Funny, Heartfelt, Horrifying, Vulnerable, Scarring, and Resurrecting. Donate or buy a cookbook after to help their cause- we have all got to do better when the tired, poor, huddled masses show up at our doorstep.
Anna Rebek enjoys seeing LOTS of theater and opera in NYC. This blog is a safe space for her praise, deconstruct, and wrestle with her impressions leaving the theater. Whether Anna loved it or not- she maintains the greatest respect for those creating new worlds and telling stories that matter.