CAVEAT: I am producing a show in the same venue that is technically in competition with this one for an additional performance (though I do not view mine as a serious contender).
SHOW TITLE: Reinventing the Wolf
PRODUCER: Burntail Arts
HAILING FROM: Minneapolis
SHOW DESCRIPTION: Sorrel’s friends know weekends are for wine, essays are for later, it’s easy to spot a monster in the woods, and there’s a clear line drawn between “yes” and “no.” Sorrel isn’t sure about anything at all.
I commented in my review of their preview that I found the meandering, chaotic style difficult to follow. That remained the case, but there’s a positive cumulative effect to this over the course of an hour that can’t really be conveyed in three minutes.
This is a slice-of-life play. Characters talk over each other, tangenting freely. They gossip, they sing. Insofar as there is a throughline, it’s one of the characters who insistently keeps bringing up a class that she’s taking. I grew up with three older sisters; I would often be trapped in a room with them while they burst out into renditions of eighties pop hits, occasionally punctuated by snippets of literary or intellectual argument. So, kudos to this cast for accurately recreating that aspect of my childhood, and fuck this cast for accurately recreating that aspect of my childhood.
This genre’s a tough sell for me – I’m fond of tightly composed text and performance, and the morass of lethargic words was difficult for me to follow or engage in. I found myself glancing at the time on my phone, thinking “This is a lot of really interesting setup – I wonder when the play’s going to get started?” before realizing that, yeah, these languorous interactions were the play.
They go for a dark twist in about the last 10-15 minutes when they’re given some solemn bits of text to read. These are ably performed by the actors, who gradually convey shock and surprise at their own responses, but I wish that they’d been given something stronger to respond to than what amounted to sub-par slam poetry.
One of the characters then describes a gray-area sexual encounter, and the remainder of the play’s running time is devoted to the rest of the cast doing the protective sisterhood thing. I was hoping for a deeper conversation about the subject here – something more substantive than a strained fairy-tale analogy and pop-psych buzzwords – but the fact is that that’s simply not what this play is trying to be: its goals aren’t intellectual, but emotional. It’s voyeuristic, a hidden-cam view into an hour of the shared lives of these women.
In that respect, it’s well-done, a superior aspect of the genre. I wish it was a genre that I responded to: those who do will find much to enjoy here.
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