Tobsha Learner’s play Wolf is dedicated to Priapus (that minor deity with a permanent erection). I was attracted to it for its promise of fable and drama and there are aspects that deliver on the promise.
There’s a wonderful image of an old dining room table with carved dog feet at the bottom of its legs, which begins to bleed as the play gets going. There are leaves that blow onto the stage, helping conjure that Red Riding Hood feel of a walk in the woods and the danger that waits in the shadows.
But, for me, much of the play was banal compared to this dramatic premise. Daniel Lupus is the wolf of the title. The play traverses his life from boy to hippie to artist to graphic designer and his constant need to conquer and then abandon every woman he meets. We meet some of his conquests as well as Deidre (the woman he married), Toni (the childhood friend who has stayed by him throughout) and his art dealer, Bart.
The characters talk about sex, gender, politics and about sex again. They talk a lot. There isn’t much action apart from the occasional coupling on or under the table. Some of the banter is witty and some of it feels old and tired.
TONI: If people can’t help themselves they don’t deserve to be helped. This whole country’s like a glorified government bureaucracy. Handouts everywhere.
DEIDRE: You sound like that new British Prime Minister.
DANIEL: Margaret …
TONI: You move towards someone new and find your legs dragged down by four broken hearts, two failed marriages and a couple of abortions. Give me a goldfish any day, at least it’s guaranteed unconditional love.
The scenes that were most interesting in my mind were the fantastical ones, when Daniel channeled the wolf.
DANIEL: The wolf says,
Ahhh, the red, the lust and all meaty things of ecstasy.
I tremble! My mouth is full of spit! And
the whiteness of small finger bones. This is life! This is
happiness! This is the beginning of all that a Wolf dreams of! I will have this maiden!
Publisher: Currency Press
Cast: 3F, 2M