“Reinventing the Wolf” at the Minnesota Fringe Festival: Allegories and a capella

“Reinventing the Wolf” at the Minnesota Fringe Festival: Allegories and a capella

I never really hung out with the a capella groups in college, so I can’t say exactly what they did with their Saturday nights, but the scenario presented in Reinventing the Wolf certainly seems plausible: four female students and one older cousin hang out in an apartment drinking Karkov, singing montages of Top 40 hits, and challenging one another to invert the allegories of classic fairy tales.

The five performers in this Minnesota Fringe Festival show own the Ritz Theater Studio space with tremendous confidence and stage presence, which helps a great deal to keep us engaged as Anna Hopps’s script builds towards revelations and repercussions—taking extended pauses for the recitals of extended self-revelatory pieces of creative writing, riffing on the Little Red Riding Hood tale, that the characters have implausibly scribbled down while drinking cheap wine and waiting for pizza.

Reinventing the Wolf is an ambitious show, and different aspects will stand out to different audience members. Some will enjoy the superb (if lengthy) bursts of song, both joyful and ironic. Others will be moved by the prose-poetry touching on issues of sexual violence. Some will enjoy the enthusiastic camaraderie among the characters, some may find it a little forced.

For me, the heart of the show came when the character Sorrel (Sarah Parker) tried to explain to her friends why she hadn’t reported a fellow student who had sexually assaulted her at a party, even though the incident affected her so much that she’s afraid to go to another party. It’s here that the show opens the “big gray areas” referred to in its tagline, and demonstrates why the kind of conversations that shows like this engender are so critical.

Jay Gabler