Dirty Pretty Theatre’s new offering The Lonely Wolf (or an incomplete guide for the unadvanced soul), written and directed by Gary Abrahams for the 2015 MTC NEON program, is a piece that could have had promise but ultimately doesn’t quite seem to know what it wants to say to the audience.
Inspired by the Herman Hesse’s novel Steppenwolf and the writings of American philosopher and psychoanalyst James Hillman, the show introduces us to Harry Haller (Christopher Brown), whose two natures – the human and the wolf – exist solely to hurt each other. Over the course of the show, Haller struggles to control both sides in his journey to discover his selfhood and, by the end of the show, is left humiliated and ashamed.
Where this show is at its strongest is in its use of dance. While dance hasn’t been a feature in Abraham’s previous works, the three dancers (Georgia Bettens, Sarah Bruce and Ellya Sam) are magnificent to watch – their movements bring a much needed emotion to the show. Simon Corfield brings a great humour into his performance as an emcee-like character, while Emily Goddard (Hermine) is engaging to watch. The design by Jacob Battista is also impressive. Set in what was once a grand building, the decay of the building helps to highlight Haller’s downfall throughout the show.
While the NEON Festival is always a great place for experimentation and new works, The Lonely Wolf gives off the feeling that a longer creative process was possibly needed to make Abraham’s vision clearer and more cohesive.