Hers Is the Head of a Wolf was a puzzling performance. It is a psychological thriller that
centers on the mental anguish of Elise, played by Raven Newbolt. She experienced an intense
trauma that left her former self shattered.
This play felt like an unrealized idea. It had great potential with a close-knit cast of
characters and strong story concept. What it seemed to lack was adequate character development.
First off, the timeline is very dodgy. It starts in the present, flashes forward, then flashes back,
then back to the present quite suddenly. There is no strong indicator to orient the events until the
end. There is also some confusion as to who is the perpetrator of the crime against Elise when
her friend Danny (Riley Leonard) seems as though he’s threatening her. The whole first half, you
feel he’s the one who hurt her until suddenly her therapist, Dr. Hamilton (Michael Tingley) is
telling her to reconnect with him. It can be very effective to leave out key plot points and reveal
them gradually, but this style seemed to give you key plot points then just as quickly contradict
Although the script did not necessarily lend itself to deep character development, the cast
did an excellent job with the time and constraints of the content. Raven Newbolt gave a stirring
performance as the victim of a hideous trauma at the hands of a man. She is wide-eyed, hesitant,
and has massive mood swings. Michael Tingley presents a calm, sage father-figure in the form of
Elise’s therapist. His soothing voice and clear concern for Elise make you as an audience
member want Elise to be successful. Riley Leonard as Danny felt like a Jekyll and Hyde. He
juggled switching from gentle and kind to menacing and threatening very well.
The plot itself takes these characters through Elise’s journey as she struggles to cope with
the attack she underwent. Ultimately, her mind has been broken by the trauma, and she is now
haunted by Shadows (Mac Wright), which tell her that every man is trying to victimize her. This
leads to self-harm in the form of cutting, and she tries desperately multiple times to use the tools
Dr. Hamilton has given her to take control and silence the voices. However, hers is a tragic story
when she cannot overcome her fear of all men and the Shadows take control. It made the ending
hard to watch because you wanted her as a victim to win instead of be overcome. That is what
makes this play have great potential for thought-provoking discussion about how to defeat trauma.