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Wolves Are Coming For You - King's Players

Wolves Are Coming For You takes place in a small, nameless town over the course of 24 hours. We are introduced by way of its community: the cast mirthfully run around, together setting the stage, after which two narrators introduce characters with brief recapitulations that quickly prove to be comically true, like that of Harry - the policeman who stands with his hands on his hips - not because it is comfortable, but because it make him feel more like his job.

Photo credit: Anoushka Chakrapani

Soon, the action settles into a series of one-to-one confrontations between various characters. The reason that these scenes are mostly confrontational is that the play opens with a wolf sighting, which quickly grows into a feeling of anxiousness that invades the villagers’ homes and relationships. The first relationship we see is between an old farmer, Bea, and her daughter, Anna, the latter of whom has left home with no interest in shouldering the family business. The tone is tense, their relationship troubled. Bea affirms that she has just seen a wolf, to Anna's disbelief. The mother - who is revealed to have some kind of degenerative disease - feels betrayed by her daughter, who, in turn, is continuously frustrated with a mother who both refuses to listen or appreciate her growth in a world outside of home.

Their confrontation culminates beautifully a few scenes later, when, as her mother is howling on the ground, taken over by a wild irrational spirit, Anna gives up on trying to reason with her, falling to her knees and howling in return. Their narrative is intertwined with those of other villagers, such as the vicar, Chris (played by Freya Thursfield) and their wife, Dee. Dee struggles with powerlessness, funnelling this into her efforts to tame the garden weeds and keep the house clean. When she finally confides in the vicar about the frustrated boredom she feels in these actions, including their relationship, they respond with a deeply moving exhortation to let things grow. Another relationship is that of Ellen, a young teen struggling with her weight, and her mother, Grace. The two do not have much stage time together, so we instead perceive their relationship through Grace’s nervous fretting - conveyed in shrill crescendos by actress Kathryn Cussons - and Ellen’s facetious desire to run away. Ellen is played by Anna Brown, who lends the character an irresistible likeability and dynamism. The teenager reveals her feelings to a reclusive forest-dwelling veteran played by Jack Sheppard - the latter adds a delightful shyness and naivety to a potentially brash role, emphasising the effects of loneliness.

Photo credit: Anoushka Chakrapani

These relationships are an exploration of community - both good and bad. They look at the ways in which solidarity expresses itself, the hostility of the familiar towards the other, and the need for human connection. The play is full of comical moments and ironic characterisations - it even sneaks in a musical number - but its strongest point is the constant awareness it demonstrates towards the development of human nature in small communities. Each member of the stellar cast gives a unique and genuine characterisation to their roles, adding a wonderful tenderness to the relationships on display, while remaining vague enough so that each trait added is recognisable and familiar, staying true to the play’s truth-seeking intentions. The audience is often included in the action, so that the community includes not only those on stage but also those around it, watching the play.

Photo credit: Anoushka Chakrapani

All in all, a great directorial success for Tom Fitzwilliams and his cast, all of whom succeed in bringing to life a group of townspeople who, ultimately - through a process of trial and error - find strength in unity and compassion.

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