Children Are People: “Wolf Play”

L-R_ Inés de la Cruz, Minh-Anh Day, Greg Maraio, Adrian Peguero; Photo by Andrew James Wang.

Presented by Company One
By Hansol Jung
Directed by Summer L. Williams
Dramaturgy by Ilana M. Brownstein
Fight choreography by Jessica Scout Malone
Boxing consultations by Kimberleigh A. Holman

January 30 – February 29, 2020
Boston Public Library
Rabb Hall
Central Library in Copley Square
Boston, MA
C1 on Facebook

All Tickets are Pay-What-You-Want

Critique by Kitty Drexel


Trigger warnings: child abuse, physical violence, bigotry

Boston, MA — Wolf Play made me so angry I wanted to punch a philosopher. There is so much going wrong in Wolf Play. Good people do not sell or purchase children from the internet. They do immediately contact child services when they discover parents attempting to sell their adopted child. They do contact organizations working on behalf of exploited children. They do not attempt to liberate a child on their own because the US’s messed up legal system thinks that LGBTQ+ adults aren’t fit to raise kids. I know it’s pretend but it’s based on fact. The adults caught up in these actions are telling themselves that they are still good people. They are not.

Wolf Play is about two families boxing over a Korean boy named Jeenu (Minh-Anh Day). Peter (Greg Maraio in a role played so aptly that it forced me to remind myself that it’s the character I objected to and not the actor.) and Katie want to rehome their adopted son Jeenu. This is illegal so they auctioned Jeenu like a camera on Yahoo Groups. Married couple Robin (Ines de la Cruz) and Ash (Tonasia Jones as the voice of reason) “adopt” Jeenu and love him like their own.

All is well until Peter realizes that Ryan (Adrian Peguero) isn’t Robin’s husband but her brother. Jeenu will be raised in a lesbian household. All of a sudden, selling Jeenu through social media is unacceptable. The possibility of indentured servitude or abuse is fine but homosexuality is the gamechanger?  Actions like this are why the US can’t have nice things. 

It’s taken me several days to write a response to Wolf Play. I’m still working through my thoughts. I’ve settled on this: if art’s purpose is to elicit a strong response from its audience, Williams and her cast have done their jobs exceedingly well. I hate that this play is necessary. I hate that Minh-Anh must articulate a child-size puppet as an adult because it’s too much to ask a kid to contemplate their existence within the boiling miasma of American racial/immigration politics for an audience. I hate that I had to relive what it is to be scared of expressing my marriage to my wife in public. 

I appreciate that it must have been difficult for everyone working on this play. I only had to watch it once. I didn’t have to learn the lines, do the research, practice dramaturgy, and show up every day for this story because there are trapped kids who need adults to hear it. Wolf Play is a great piece of art. I appreciate it is effective activism. 

Tonasia Jones, Inés de la Cruz – Photo by Andrew James Wang

I’ve been telling myself that my strong reaction to the play is indicative of its excellence. I’m angry to the point of violence because Hansol Jung, Summer L. Williams, the cast and the C1 crew told a compelling story with sincere truth. That I continue to be angry after the cast took its bows tells me that Jung’s play has within its pages the power of longevity. This is a play that can speak to audiences long after this production has closed. Its message is timely and universal. 

The program includes extensive dramaturgy by Ilana M. Brownstein. Brownstein’s work extends into adoption dissolution, the termination of a previously legalized adoption. Next to Brownstein’s notes is information for the Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis and the Justice Resource Institute. Hardcopy information is available at the performance on a table outside Rabb Hall. 

If you enjoyed this article, please consider making a donation. Every cent earned goes towards the upkeep and continuation of the New England Theatre Geek.
Become a patron at Patreon!

Comments are closed.