Wolf Play

Wolf Play
Shotgun Theater
Berkeley, CA

Opening Night September 9, 2023

In a theater seminar at UC Berkeley a professor asked, after the class had read a play, “What is the play about?” Students began to cite the plot. “No!” The professor said again, “What is the play about?” He was trying to point out the “through line”, the thematic idea that hold the play together around which all the incidents, the plot, the lines and the characters are connected.

The “through” line of “Wolf Play” is adoption, adaptation, relationships and imagination. That may be too many ideas for any play but they’re all there. Although several of the actors give exciting and original performances, the event itself becomes too long (almost two hours without intermission)… and too busy.

Playwright Hansol Jung asks, “What ultimately makes a family?” Her play attempts the answer through multiple complications legal and emotional. The boy, Jeenu, is presented as a puppet, brilliantly maneuvered by Mikee Loria as Wolf. Gabby Momah (Ash) also gives a fine performance as the boxer. Laura Domingo, Caleb Cabrera and Sam Bertken complete the cast. Elizabeth Carter directed.

The central performance by Loria is his ability to bring the puppet alive in many different circumstances and accomplish the sense of his growth, character and intelligence. This is contrasted with Momah’s portrayal as a reluctant boxer who finally accepts the ‘wolf’ child…who does not join others easily, seeking his own world.

There are other challenges: a former parent wants the child returned; family members resent the ‘new’ child; the adoption has legal challenges. All this makes for exiting drama staged with much ‘business’ including breakfast scenes, boxing exhibitions, legal arguments and emotional crises.

Wolf Play” is a good two hours of challenging drama. It would be more effective shorter, clearer and with unnecessary ‘stage’ business.

Go see it! …and reflect on the social questions raised. Most of all, enjoy the performances.