Wolf Lullaby by Hilary Bell
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, “My son, the battle is between two “wolves” inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed arrogance, self-pity,
guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness,
benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:
“Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Lies or truth? Wolf Lullaby will keep you guessing as to which wolf was fed the most. The story is an intricate psychological thriller based on fear and generational secrets that finally begin to surface. The title conjures images of being lulled to your death by the wolf. What one doesn’t imagine is that the wolf can reside in a child. The manner in which writer, Hilary Bell, handled this controversial topic was creative, haunting and suspenseful.
In a small town in Tasmania, Australia, a two-year-old boy is found murdered. He is scratched, bruised and has two puncture marks on his neck that resemble a wolf bite. On closer examination, it was ascertained that the bodily damage was caused by a child. Suspicion fell on nine-year-old Lizzie Gael. She had been branded a pathological liar after being arrested for shoplifting and breaking the necks of her school colleague’s canaries. What ensues is a mind game of cat and mouse between Sergeant Ray Armstrong and Lizzie.
Chloe Finlay gave an outstanding performance playing the role of Lizzie Gael. She is a natural for the stage and showed impressive skills in the use of her voice and body to play the part of a nine-year-old convincingly. She certainly dominated the stage with her enigmatic presence and has a bright acting future ahead of her. It was a pleasure to watch her flawless performance. Jason Hayden was intimidating as the sergeant and Peta Simeon also gave a good performance. It was unfortunate that Thomas Warr who was to play Lizzie’s father, Warren, was unable to perform due to unforeseen circumstances. Noel Thompson stepped in and did a great job keeping the flow going as well as could be expected. Gabriella, Chelsea and Jessica are worthy of commendation for their roles.
Director, Annie Lotocki did a great job choosing her cast and creating an atmosphere that was at times disturbing and yet intriguing. The set, lighting and sound effects certainly enhanced the audience’s experience. The only point that marred the flow of the story was using a female voice for Toby’s voiceover. Rather than it being eerily effective, it came across as comical. I feel it would have been better to pre-record a boy’s voice. In regards to the actor’s interaction, I felt there was a lack of eye contact between them. When trying to ascertain whether someone is lying, or when attempting to extract a confession, eye contact is extremely powerful. The result came across as a disconnection between actors. This may have been intentional to portray the neglect and isolation between the adults and Lizzie, however, there were some powerful scenes when the lack of eye contact came across as unnatural. One scene, in particular, was when the sergeant had reached a point of complete frustration when attempting to interrogate Lizzie and he lost his temper.
Wolf Lullaby is extremely well written. The suspense created by trying to reason with a child’s mind is exhausting and the ending may not be what you expect but it certainly leaves you thinking. It’s a complex play that requires diverse emotional performances. I certainly appreciated seeing this production, particularly because it brought the talent of Chloe Finlay to my attention. I will certainly look forward to seeing more from this accomplished young actress.
Wolf Lullaby by Hillary Bell
Directed by: Annie Lotocki
Assistant Director: Wal Lotocki
Set Design: Annie & Wal Lotocki
Lighting & Technical Design: Chris King
Sound Design: Marcus du Toit, Annie & Wal Lotocki
Lizzie Gael – Chloe Finlay
Angela Gael – Peta Simeon
Warren Gael – Thomas Warr
Sergeant Ray Armstrong – Jason Hayden
Children’s Chorus – Gabriella Oxley; Chelsea Burton; Jessica Armour