Los Angeles Theater Review: WOLVES (Celebration Theatre)

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by Jason Rohrer on March 10, 2013

in Theater-Los Angeles


Steve Yockey’s new play isn’t new, and it isn’t a play.

Jason Rohrer's Stage and Cinema review of WOLVES_Celebration Theatre, HollywoodThe first contention first: Part of a new promotional concept of “rolling world premieres” designed specifically to hype theaters and the scripts they mount, Wolves already played in Atlanta, New Orleans, and Tempe last year.  This isn’t a tour; it’s four different productions at four different theaters.  And yet this Celebration Theatre production is billed as a world premiere.  The billing sells tickets, and the fact that four theaters have produced this show makes it much more likely to get published with the name of the world premiere theater printed inside the front cover.  Win-win for everyone who doesn’t have to sit through it.

Jason Rohrer's Stage and Cinema review of WOLVES_Celebration Theatre, HollywoodThe second contention: This isn’t a play, it’s a first act, a one-hour sketch packed with banal characters, clunky dialogue, and (generously) half a story.  A gay man brings home another gay man, whom his jealous, paranoid gay roommate murders.  Par for a Steve Yockey effort, Wolves includes some extremely late-arriving supernatural elements that add nothing to plot or mood and contradict previously introduced themes and motifs.  This piece of writing is yet another example of a thing produced regionally not as a workshop but as a ready-for-the-boards show, when in fact it’s so muddy and incoherent and brief and ugly that if Steve Yockey hadn’t written it, nobody but the most aggressive pro-LGBT advocate would have considered mounting it.  There’s no exploration of relationships, no story, no point.

Jason Rohrer's Stage and Cinema review of WOLVES_Celebration Theatre, HollywoodDirector Michael Matthews is stuck here with a lame and halting script and does the best he can.  His love for the writer’s work (Mr. Matthews recently directed Mr. Yockey’s Very Still and Hard to See at the Lex Theatre) shows in the care he takes to stage this thing as if it were a play.  He frames the laugh lines and the shocks and abets Mr. Yockey’s theatricality with some of his own.  He directs the actors, to the varying degrees that they can take direction, toward real motivations and characters.  Without help from the script, though, the actors achieve at best one-dimensional portraits of life, which is more than the playwright has done.  At least, in accordance with the new vision of co-artistic director Michael A. Shepperd, everybody keeps his pants on in this Celebration Theatre production.

photos by Matthew Brian Denman

Celebration Theatre in Hollywood
scheduled to end on May 5, 2013
for tickets, call (323) 957-1884 or visit http://www.celebrationtheatre.com

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Thomas Kohn April 22, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Axe to grind?

The reviewer Jason Rohrer must have a tale or two about his relationship with Steve Yockey. What is an effectively staged one-act plays much better than Rohrer lets on. The conceit of a narrator with more knowledge about the setting, background, and motivations is not new, and the devices that allow the narrator to reveal only what’s ncessary at each point are well-plotted. I enjoyed the direct presentation on the Celebration Theater stage, though I might have directed Ben’s longer monologs of terror to be more nuanced and more slowly paced.


Tim Simms April 27, 2013 at 12:41 pm

I don’t have an axe to grind with anyone, and I don’t completely agree with Mr. Rohrer, but I, too have some contentions. I think the script has promise, but another rewrite or two is desperately needed. The production was atrocious, though. On the surface, the acting seemed cliché and one-note, but when all the actors are uniformly bad, I can only fault the director. Mr. Matthews’s staging put the B in subtle. With almost no exceptions, the actors spoke at each other rather than to each other. I suspect that with better direction, all the actors have done fine work, but here, they wore their characters rather than embodying them. I’m glad it was not longer, because an intermission would have seen me running to my car, never to return.


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