A troubled youth and dark secrets drives this intriguing play at Open Fist Theatre. Joseph Fisher’s A Wolf Inside the Fence is a taut play that centers on the development of these broken people in a school setting. Linus McBride (Arthur Hanket) teaches history to uninterested students. He’s just acquired his father’s farm over the summer, and he may be unraveling mentally before our eyes. Marion McNeely (Charlotte Chanler) is a troubled teen with an attitude. Principal Judy Bench (Amanda Weier) is the hard ass that wants to keep Marion in check, and Harold Carson (Colin Walker) is a math teacher and boyfriend to the principal.
Their lives begin to intertwine in more ways than one with the appearance of Marion, who has been tossed around foster home after foster home throughout her whole sixteen years of life. Fisher has crafted each character fully, with their own secrets and convictions that clash with one another, making this play as entertaining as any play out there right now – and could possibly be better than some out there right now.
The performances are top notch, complementing the playwright’s witty script. Though the play is very dark, it is never treated that way and much of the humor works with the subject matter – much of it dealing with sexual abuse, primarily from Marion’s perspective, affairs of the heart, and social commentary on the today’s school system.
The sparse set by James Spenser draws the attention to the characters, the acting, and director Benjamin Burdick’s economic and lithe pacing. At Open Fist Theater, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. (performance dates vary); thru September 11. (323) 882-6912.