Zahniser, Beth Alianello, Lytle, Ararat, Sara States as Wolf Source: Courtesy of Wilbury Theatre Group

Review: 'Wolf Play' a Social Satire Dressed in Dramatic Clothing

Joe Siegel READ TIME: 3 MIN.

Hansol Jung's "Wolf Play" is a social satire masquerading as a drama about racial and gender stereotypes.

Lesbian couple Ash (Ellen Zahniser) and Robin (Beth Alianiello) adopt a Korean child off the internet. The boy's father, Peter (Jeff Ararat), is appalled to learn his son, Peter Jr., will be raised by a same-sex couple. When he first arrived at their apartment, he mistook Robin's brother Ryan (Teddy Lytle) for her husband.

Jung analyzes the difficulties of parenting as Ash and Robin try to balance their careers and family life. Ash is hesitant about raising a child, especially one procured online, but Robin eventually persuades her to reach out to young Peter, who says his name is Genu.

Ellen Zahniser as Ash in silhouette
Source: Courtesy of Wilbury Theatre Group

What's unique about "Wolf Play" is Peter, or Genu, is a puppet with the mind of a wolf. Sara States makes a sparkling debut as Wolf, and shares the child's inner thoughts as well as a running commentary about the lives of wolves. ("You are barely a breath in the space time continuum," Wolf says in the introduction.) It's a quirky concept which works, thanks to the talent of the performers and the imaginative direction by Marcel A. Mascaro ("We're Gonna Die").

Zahniser and Alianiello ("You Got Older") are believable as the couple, and have an amusing debate about adopting a child from a website.

Lytle's Ryan is pure testosterone, prepping Ash for her big boxing match and encouraging young Genu to defend himself. Ararat ("La Broa") also exudes comic charm as Peter becomes increasingly distraught about his son living with lesbians. He has a memorably profane tantrum, viewed in silhouette.

Ash is a boxer, and trains in Ryan's gym. The boxing match is viewed in shadow behind a screen, which is bathed in red light. Things go awry when Robin takes Genu to see Ash in the ring.

Teddy Lytle and Jeff Ararat
Source: Courtesy of Wilbury Theatre Group

The climax takes place in a courtroom, where Peter fights Ash and Robin for custody of his son. The resolution isn't what you would expect; everything is not tied up in a neat and perfect bow.

"Wolf Play" continues Wilbury Theatre Group's series of experimental productions that push the envelope of innovative storytelling. Andy Russ' evocative sound and lighting design contribute much to the high quality of this show.

Overall, this is a fun production with some interesting characters and themes.

Wolf Play runs through April 7. 95 minutes with no intermission. Wilbury Theatre Group. WaterFire Arts Center at 475 Valley Street, Providence, RI. For tickets visit

by Joe Siegel

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.

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