Be Wearing Wolf is a must see for anyone interested in theatre that scratches far beneath the surface of relationships, prejudice and howlarity!
This Theatre Arts Niagara production showcases the considerable talents of writers/performers Deanna Jones (Joyce) and Erin Shields (Simone) as they learn about themselves through the actions and opinions of the wide-ranging characters they portray.
The show gets off to a sluggish start as the back-story evolves but once it morphs into two pubescent girls dissing the world around them, the pace and the humour (both dark and light) picks up considerably, ya know, like, ex-cell-ent!
The sparse set with its Shady Dreams Institute trappings (although the single bed seems at odds with legislated decorum) is used effectively. Dressing in hospital “sweats” is both practical (the play makes as many physical demands as theatrical) and realistic.
In fact, the best moments come when both actors are silent—the consummation of madness scene is unforgettable—and utilize their exceptional mime abilities.
The parade of characters from the pill-popping society-mother (but, sorry, the viola gag doesn’t ring true—most are bigger than six-year-olds) to the volunteer from the tundra belt to the (spot-on) lecturing professor (with his clicker fetish) keep our interest up and funny bones vibrating. But anyone who has stocked their lives with serious imaginary friends may see these social/cultural commentaries very differently.
Director Cole Lewis has brilliantly harnessed the talents of her charges (no easy task whenever the writer(s) interpret their own work) and kept the self-indulgence level to the bare minimum. The riveting moment of pain from touch was set up perfectly as was the lurking theme of hunting an endangered species: Much to reflect on in such a short space of time. And I wondered if the final minutes might ever be re-assembled to let the piece end with the chilling double howl.
Once the near-interminable “vamp ‘til ready” overture ended, musicians Joe Lapinski and Edwin Conroy Jr. provided a tasteful and discreet soundscape, having the intelligence to know just when to stop and let the actors carry the scene.
Any lighting, instrument “dropsy” or line blemishes will have vanished with one or two more performances, but the experience of being in the room with such an honest and humourous look at inner darkness should have patrons lined up for miles. JWR