Hollywood Fringe 2019
Solo snow show about the Marla Black pack.
The central question guiding the story in Marla Black’s solo show “Raised By Wolves” is whether an omega dog can ever rise up in the ranks to become an alpha of the pack—even when the omega is you and the pack is your family. Black is truly winsome in what’s sure to be one of the most understated crowd-pleasers of the Fringe season.
We begin by meeting Black’s father (with the aid of some fun costuming choices), her mother, step-mother and step-siblings (with the aid of an easel pad), and her family’s many dogs (with the aid of…well, you’ll see). We see her navigate her way through an unconventional childhood in Canada where working with her father’s dogsled team takes precedent over schooling and just about everything else. Her father puts her through the wringer to make her prove her worth, but ultimately the title of this show is tragically misleading; the “wolves” are not her dogs, but rather her family.
Part memoir, part TED talk, Black’s story is told with a fireside intimacy that’s also chock full of punchlines straight out of the Catskills. Anyone with a pet dog, or a heart, will be captivated as Black takes us on her snow-bound safari from her unusual beginnings, through her struggles to become a respected and loving dog wrangler, to her final daring escape. There are many solo shows about actors making their leap from the middle of nowhere into the grips of Hollywood, but this one takes the cake and does a great job of turning that trope on its head.
This show is told simply, without much flash aside from a few projections of the Canadian wilderness and some voiceovers. The only parts where it falters are during some of the transitions which slowed the momentum. But make no mistake, among the solo shows at Fringe this year, this world-premiere from Marla Black is an Alpha. You will laugh, you may cry, and you will most certainly enjoy “Raised by Wolves.” -ZACHARY BERNSTEIN