An introverted and intellectually bewitching high school student (sporting a red hoodie)befriends her mild-mannered, but deeply frustrated, English teacher, Jacob Grimm. The relationship evolves and becomes… questionable. And then, tragedy strikes. The police narrow in on Grimm, his agoraphobic wife turns her back on him, and the small-town rumor mill churns. Mr. Grimm soon finds his life spiraling out of control — but, maybe there’s more to the story?
Wolf is an ambitious new play written, directed by and starring Brikenbrak artistic director Paul Cosca. Usually, such projects collapse under the weight a siloed vision. We call these “vanity” projects. Fortunately, Cosca’s project was not created in vain — it’s a solid play supported by a talented ensemble that, with a few more performances under its belt, has the potential to become a fully compelling experience. The performance I saw last night started off strong, but technical issues, along with a jarring shift in tone in the play’s final third, tripped up the concluding scenes. And while the play intends to leave loose ends untied, to me it felt like it just, well, ended.
That said, the potential is definitely there, and the ensemble cast is giving committed, honest and risk-taking performances (Cosca actually gets waterboarded in an intense interrogation scene). After a few performances, I’m sure the technical issues (including a complex shifting of panels and set pieces that the cast worked through as best they could) will iron themselves out and Cosca’s script will grip the audience as it should — and can.
I stayed around for the talkback after the show — something I don’t typically do, but I’m very glad I did. It was fascinating to hear what others thought of the play, including their theories on the play’s tragic outcomes and murky conclusion.
Based on the active post-show discussion, the audience was clearly engaged, and that’s a very refreshing and exciting thing to see. Also, The Think Tank, a modular new space established by Cosca and crew, has the potential to be a great asset to Chicago’s storefront theatre community.
“Wolf” plays through September 17 at The Think Tank, 1770 W. Berteau Ave. Running time: 1 hour and 45 minutes with no intermission. More info here >