Howling and groaning

Harlequin stages werewolf thinker

By Steve Dunkelberger on August 27, 2009

I don’t really know what to say about this show. It is brilliant and silly and true to life and absurd all at the same time. On balance, it was certainly a thinker of a play and that makes it a great play in my book.

Mating Dance of the Werewolf is a play that stands out in several ways. The most obvious way it is unique is that it deals with the relationship between a human and a werewolf. The strange thing is that the play really isn’t a horror sort of show. It is a complex love triangle that is made more convoluted by the fact that the lady in the equation is not only a werewolf, but finds herself in love with a human and a wolf. The human has a hard time understanding that he has to not only compete for his girlfriend’s affections, but that the competition needs a flea collar.

What makes this show more than an absurd comedy is that it is so real — in a werewolf sort of way. Buy into the whole werewolf things, and the play is a standard love triangle.

And it’s a story that runs the rollercoaster of any relationship. There is the courtship, the chase, the first encounter, the meeting of friends, the first fights and so on. It worked for the most part because the script is so different from so many other plays.

Anchoring this play is Helen Harvester in the role of Abby, the wolf by night and woman by day. She has a difficult role to play, as a loving, passionate and odd girlfriend on one side and a werewolf in the other. Granted the audience never sees her as a werewolf, only immediately after her transformation back to being a human. But her human role is filled with wolf-like stances and actions that create the idea of her actually being a werewolf when the night comes. Her toned, dancer frame further adds to the illusion.

Tying all this together is a detective story following the grizzly death of one of the supporting characters. South Sound theater veteran Steve Manning nails the role of the no-nonsense cop, who pieces the tale together in a series of flashbacks and interrogation points. This is one of those shows that’s hard to describe and well worth the investment.

[The State Theater, Mating Dance of the Werewolf, through Sept. 12, 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, $12-$33, 202 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia, 360.786.0151]