Written by Alina Mae Wilson
People love re-imagining fairy tales. The popularity of well-known stories such as Into the Woods, Wicked, and every single re-created plot point on ABC’s Once Upon a Time proves audiences everywhere are still willing to sit through the same basic storylines -so long as the tale is presented in a different, somewhat more “clever” way. In Theatre Out’s production of Wolves, we get our “redone fairy tale” fix in the form of one man’s delusional worldview, which resembles a horror film version of Little Red Riding Hood. Wolves is brief, amusing, and thoroughly, throughly weird.
Via edification by an omnipotent narrator who possesses the ability to stop time, we learn Ben is a young man from a small town currently living in a big city where he does not fit in. We also learn he is living with his infinitely more confident roommate, Jack, who just happens to be his former boyfriend. Despite their breakup, Ben still has feelings for his roomie and doesn’t cope well when Jack decides to go out for a night on the town.
I don’t want to give too much away, but I do think it’s important to note this is not your typical fairy tale re-telling. This is not a re-imagined version of the original “Little Red Riding Hood.” This is a modern version of the story. Ben provides us with the main perspective rather than the Narrator. The Narrator is there to clarify facts about Ben more than anything else. The most important perspective in the story is undoubtedly Ben’s because he is the reactor to everything that happens.
In the best possible way, Jeffrey Fargo is disgusting as Ben. He is a miserable, terrified, quivering like a mass of jell-o every moment he is onstage. From the beginning to the end there is absolutely no difficulty believing the wretchedness of this sad and pathetic person. But it is possible to be too miserable, and I do believe that line is crossed with Ben. The Narrator gives us a condensed version of Jack and Ben’s history together, but it is too brief. Ben and Jack do not really make sense either as roommates or lovers simply because Jack is so down to earth, and Ben is so…not. Yes, opposites have been known to attract, but we as an audience never get to see anything appealing about Ben. It might have made more sense for the two men to be brothers if only because the bond of familial love might make Jack’s willingness to humor Ben more understandable. Otherwise we are simply left with our own bewildered thoughts of “Why on earth is Jack still here?” With a running time of just under sixty minutes, we still have plenty of time to get into the richer details of their relationship, so it’s somewhat surprising they choose to focus on overly-long dialogues between Jack and his friend Wolf.
The Narrator is well-written and has some of the best lines in the show. Her consultations with the audience coupled with her eerie intentions towards Ben pretty much makes the show. Played by Lori Kelley, the Narrator had the audience laughing almost every time she spoke. Kevin Carranza is perfectly believable as Wolf in every stage of his development. Dylan Wallace seems to really come to life during the second half of the show when he gets to go through a bit of a personality development. During the first half, his average joe persona seems to be reciting his lines rather too much by rote.
The show is under an hour long and could stand a bit more character development, but what is shown is shown pretty well. Don’t go in expecting a lot of depth, just go in for some fun.
April 3 – April 25
Podcast Interviews with the cast by Ashton Marcus: