Win or lose, it’s how the cast plays the game that ultimately distinguishes Horizon Theatre’s “The Wolves,” a generally modest coming-of-age comedy-drama (by Sarah DeLappe) involving the members of a high school girls indoor soccer team.
The novel kick of the show is that the scenes take place during their weekly practice sessions (on an elongated AstroTurfed set by Isabel and Moriah Curley-Clay). The acting part of the exercise is directed by Heidi Cline McKerley, the athletic “soccer choreography” is by Sarah Stoffle — and, on both counts, an ensemble of nine actresses multitasks with a tireless gusto.
Some of them look to be more age-appropriate for their parts than others, and some of the individual characters are better defined than others, as written. As a unified team, they do a wholly convincing job of portraying DeLappe’s coterie of energized teenagers (none of whom are identified by actual name, but rather by jersey number).
Between warmup exercises, the action is fueled by a lot of naturally overlapping dialogue, briskly orchestrated and skillfully executed. Besides simply gushing about boyfriends or gossiping about their unseen coach (or one another), sometimes their conversations also include headier debates about social media platforms in China, the ethical complications of the Khmer Rouge, or even ripped-from-the-headlines references to “keeping Mexican kids in cages.”
Among the more familiar faces on view: Jasmine Thomas (from Horizon’s “Citizens Market” and Theatre du Reve’s “The Little Prince”) is No. 25, the Wolves’ no-nonsense team captain; Michelle Pokopac (Georgia Ensemble’s “On the Verge,”Synchronicity’s “Sense and Sensibility”) is No. 11, who has a certain worldview; and Shannon McCarren (Serenbe’s “Titanic” and “The Seagull”) is No. 14, whose own nationality becomes another topic of discussion.
Standouts in the uniformly steadfast ensemble include a pair of former Horizon acting apprentices. Erika Miranda is No. 46, the (home-schooled) new kid on the block, who overcomes initial doubts to prove herself a valuable member of the team. And Rebecca Robles is No. 7, the tough-talking star “striker” who’s most threatened by the new competition.
Rounding out the Wolves pack in less pronounced roles are Katie Causey as No. 00, the oddly untalkative goalie, Shelby Folks as the giddy No. 13, Ebony Jerry as the motherless No. 8, and Anna Williford as the nose-bleeding No. 2.
In addition to the aforementioned Stoffle and Curley-Clays, the rest of director McKerley’s behind-the-scenes crew is, like her cast, all-female: lighting designer Mary Parker, costume designer Cole Spivia, sound designer Amy L. Levin, props designer Maclare “MC” Park, and stage manager Julianna M. Lee.
The feminine sensibility of “The Wolves” turns a little sappy before all is said and done, with a tear-jerking conclusion that features the introduction of a “soccer mom” played by Megan Cramer. Otherwise, though, in large part, as Thomas’ character so aptly puts it late in the game, “Teamwork makes the dream work.”
Through March 3. 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays; 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 5 p.m. Sundays. $27-$35. Horizon Theatre, 1083 Euclid Ave. (in Little Five Points), Atlanta. 404-584-7450, horizontheatre.com.
Bottom line: Energetically played.
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