Stray Cat’s ‘Wolves’ darker take on ‘Little Red Riding Hood’

Monday, December 3, 2012
Arizona Republic

Stray Cat Theatre delivers a high-concept gut punch in “Wolves,”...

It’s worth taking a mental inventory of the bare-bones set of “Wolves,” the latest danse macabre from Tempe’s Stray Cat Theatre. The bucket, the ax, even the white gaffer tape used to mark the claustrophobic confines of an otherwise invisible apartment: Each will have its role to play an update of “Little Red Riding Hood” that’s way grimmer than the Grimms’.

This dizzying jumble of the cerebral and the visceral is treacherous territory, and Yockey clearly knows this, as one of his characters grouses during a time stoppage, “There better be a payoff.” And there sure is.

The best moments in this play, which would be spoiled by description, are at once shockingly grisly and winkingly theatrical. It’s a tightrope maneuver that’s sharply executed both by the playwright and by director Ron May. A provocative postmodern parable — or anti-parable — “Wolves” has received a world-premiere-worthy production from Stray Cat Theatre. The staging and the performances are all richly developed, from Pinti’s enigmatic nice-guy Wolf to London’s naughty-and-nice muse.

Whether you’re familiar with the latter actor’s usual niche, singing in kiddie musicals for Tempe’s Childsplay, you won’t soon forget the image of her delicately sidestepping pools of stage blood in her spike heels. Nor will you forget the howling climax that brings the Big Bad Wolf of fairy tales to terrifying life.