Steve Yockey’s One Act play “Wolves” is the second production at WeHo’s own Celebration Theatre, and boy is it a winner.
Ben (Nathan Mohebbi) is a nondescript small town boy who is not especially good at anything, except being afraid. He left the small town and came to a very big town and now he is certain that one day, or rather one night, as soon as he lets his guard down, “the wolves” as he calls them, will swallow him alive.
So Ben stays hidden away in his small apartment, just him and his own thoughts, singing two-part harmony as he accompanies himself on the acoustic guitar. His thoughts take on corporeal form in the shape of our Narrator (Katherine Skelton), a quieting voice that sings with him on calm moments and whispers directions to survival in times of crisis.
Ben shares his apartment with Jack (Matt Magnusson), another lonely boy from a small town. For a while, they find refuge in each other. But that romance has since faded, at least it has for Jack, and Jack wants to venture out to see in the night is as dangerous as he remembered. Despite Ben’s pleads and warnings, Jack goes out, and to prove a point, he brings back someone he believes is a Wolf. Wolf (Andrew Crabtree) turns out to be a sweet guy that is fairly patient while deciphering Jack’s mixed signs. When Wolf decides to make his move, play it a little rough as Jack’s latest game of words suggests, Ben enters, mistaking the encounter and, of course, swoops in to protect his Jack.
What happens next is… just wrong in so many ways. So many great ways.
To try to describe Wolves in typical Hollywood terms of “this” meets “that” is an exercise in futility. I keep coming up with Misery and “Pippin” and even those references can’t do this play justice. This show is wrought with black humor and shocking images and a creep factor that is off the charts. Yockey’s play is a mangled combination of genres and tones that I’ve never quite seen executed so brilliantly.
With a small ensemble of four, the weakest link would not help but stick out like a sore thumb. I assure you, there are no weak links here. We are warned at the outset that ere are no morals to this story, so you can go in knowing the playwright has no deep meaning he wishes to impart; but by no means are there no lessons to be gleaned from this darkly tale.
Once again Director Michael Matthews has made wonderful use of limited space, employing a minimalist set and energetic, clearly define performances. Kudos for casting a quartet that is equally solid in both drama and comedy.
Steve Yockey’s script is unapologetically sinister in it’s wickedness. It’s funny, it’s gripping and it is extremely well played.
Wolves, a National New Play Network / Rolling World Premiere, is running now at:
7051 Santa Monica Blvd,
West Hollywood, CA 90069
PHOTO CREDIT: Matthew Brian Denman