Arts & Events

THEATER REVIEW: 'Redwolf'--Ragged Wing at the Flight Deck

Ken Bullock
Friday October 31, 2014 - 09:58:00 AM

A classroom of students chanting the lesson as the Teacher points to a right triangle--and in the corner, wearing an intense frown, is Red, "bored," as the Teacher later puts it, though her malaise--or wish--is more intense than any boredom ... 

'Redwolf' is Ragged Wing Ensemble's first full-length show in the black box theater at their new, self-built performance center, The Flight Deck, on Broadway at the western end of Uptown Oakland, across the street from the start of Telegraph Ave. A collaborative effort between Ragged Wing co-founder Amy Sass (who also directs) and noted playwright Anthony Clarvoe, 'Redwolf's' billed as a young woman's "journey from girlhood to wolfhood," including awakenings both sexual and to the world of "growth," the constant development that shuts out, obliterates the Wild.  

If there's a map, there's no wild there anymore, one character says. And the surveying crew is aimed at Red's house, where she lives alone, a "default adult," demolition in preparation for constructing The Beltway. 

The biggest breakthrough for Ragged Wing with the new script is the character of Red--and Carlye Pollack's playing the part. By turns smoldering (with boredom? rage? indignation?), playfully teasing, defensive, lost, responsive, Pollack plays Red as a fascinatingly elusive but well-rounded character. Ragged Wing's decade-long string of productions has--as their name implies in one sense--been often fixated on what Sherwood Anderson called The General, the situational, even the symbolic (Amy Sass has a penchant for fleshing out fairytales in modern guise)--in 'Redwolf,' a kind of schematic satire of the schematic drudgery and repression of modern life.  

But with Red as focal point the play takes on a kind of carousel motion--Red in this or that situation, as the schema works its way through ... 

The rest of the cast--Jaime Lee Currier, Cecilia Palmtag, David Stein, Keith Davis, Dan Kurtz--are all equal to the occasion, do function as an ensemble, including some good physical theater, especially during the first half of the play. 

Right before intermission is the best of several particularly good scenes, when Wendell--well-played by Keith Davis--the engineer who's envisioned the Beltway, visits Red in her house and after playing games, gets literally entangled with her. It's a red-hot scene, two actors playing it up perfectly--which makes a later nude scene, well enough played, look tame by comparison, in this exploration of the Wild, and the thought of it. 

Fridays at 8, Saturdays at 2 & 8, Sundays at 7 through November 8, The Flight Deck, 1540 Broadway, Oakland, $25-$40 (student-senior rush, $15, 1/2 hour before curtain):