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THE WOLF ~ ArtWorks Performance Space ~ Hollywood

2:53 PM PDT on April 13, 2007

"How do we go on living after what we've done?"

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THE WOLF @ ArtWorks Performance Space, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90038, through Saturday, May 5th, $25.00. For reservations call 323-960-5775 or visit: www.plays411.com for full-price tickets or www.LAStagetix.com for half-price tickets.

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L to R: Sean Huze, Karl Risinger, Blake Robbins, Rashaan Nall & Cameron Goodman

Camp Lejeune, Louisiana. Staff Sargeant Joey Dallriva (Sean Huze,) Russell Johnson (a brief but memorable appearance by Rashaan Nall) and Kelly Pickett (Cameron Goodman/Eve Mauro) reluctantly sit through a mandatory support group session in the military psychiatric ward where the've been locked up for violent crimes committed in Iraq. Despite the caring supervision of Lt. Commander Bell (Blake Robbins,) Russell and Joey constantly bait each other and trade accusations over the revenge attack they conducted on a group of Iraqi civilians. A frustrated Bell urges them to stop fighting and share their feelings. Kelly consents to depict the rape she endured in Iraq in the hands of three "fellow" soldiers and her subsequent deadly assault on one of her perpetrators. When King of Sarcasm Russell answers her brave confession with a vile and cruel joke, Kelly pounces on him and ferociously bashes his head against the floor.

The opening scene of THE WOLF, written by playwright and Iraq war veteran Sean Huze, is a powerful springboard from which to launch Huze's post-war existential outcry: you can't make soldiers into wolves and expect them to behave like sheeps when they come home. Commander Bell tells Joey he is only sick and can be cured, Joey disagrees. "That's who we are now. I accept it."

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Father Lawrence (Damien Leake) and mother in mourning Catherine Dallriva (Amy Moorman)

Joey's mission in life isn't to share his feelings in a support group, it's to go home to Mantor, Ohio, to kill his priest, Father Lawrence (Damien Leake,) for having lied to him. Joey asks Kelly to escape the hospital with him because she's a kindred wolf. Kelly gets defensive, she's not like Joey. How could he kill civilians? Joey's passionate reply leaves Kelly speechless: "Did you think you could bash a man's head or slit a man's throat?"

Joey and Kelly take the trip home, alternating between wolf behavior when confronted with people who trigger memories of their victims or perpetrators, and sheeps when their hearts soften and they attempt to reach out to each other.

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Wolves attract? Or sheeps? Joey Dellriva (Sean Huze) and Kelly Picket (Cameron Goodman)

At home Joey's conservative mother Catherine (Amy Moorman) and his intensely anti-war sister Theresa (Vanessa Martinez) are grief-stricken over the death of Bobby, Joey's brother who also fought in Iraq. The rising tension comes to a dangerous high with the long-awaited muscular, soul-wrenching confrontation between Joey and Father Lawrence, two veterans who fought in different wars but bear the same mental, physical and spiritual scars.

Despite uneven performances and one-dimensional characters that keep hitting the same note, THE WOLF is an absolute must-see. When Sean Huze as Joey and Damien Leake as Father Lawrence battle side-by-side and yet opposite each other for their sanity and redemption, it's hard to forget that both actors are real-life veterans and Sean Huze came back from Iraq only two years ago. Like SAFETY, the play by Chris Thorpe about the plight of a war photographer, THE WOLF brings a distant war home and awakens our desensitized hearts to the unbearable sorrow of the bereaved and the private hells of soldiers turned Dr. Jekkyls and Mr. Hydes by a highly controversial war built on lies and deceit.

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This production is presented by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and The Vetstage Foundation. "VetStage presents one of the best opportunities for our nation’s veterans to define their experience and how it is perceived by the public. In addition to that, it provides a positive, creative outlet for veterans to process their personal experience, enable them to make an artistic contribution to society and ease the transition back into civilian life."

Demonstrating strong talent in supporting roles are VetStage cast members Roberto Sanchez (Carl) and Karl Risinger (Sergeant Walker), as well as Sarah Rosenberg (Beth) and Navid Negahban (Iraqi Ghost/Hassim.) Ray Haratian alternates with Navid Negahban.

THE WOLF is directed by Rick Pagano and produced by Anita Lee. For more information, go to www.thewolfplay.com.

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