YA theater

OCT’s ‘Fangs’ go deep

The company's Young Professionals go into the woods for a fable about werewolves and transformations and growing up in the scary semi-wilds of adolescence

Stephen Spotswood’s In the Forest She Grew Fangs, the latest offering of Oregon Children’s Theatres’ Young Professionals, is immersive (not just because someone nearly drowns in a lake), haunting (beyond its spooky, ever-morphing story), and as captivating as the wooded rural town the story’s teens are trapped in.

In the universe of popular films such as Carrie, Teen Wolf, and Twilight, and in the spirit of prior OCT shows Columbinus (also a Young Professionals production) and Zombie in Love, this tale never declares but strongly suggests that it’s about a teen girl’s werewolf transformation. If it’s not about that, then the lycanthropic theme is a metaphor for alienation and maturation. It almost doesn’t matter either way in a fable that shuffles various burdens between its main characters as they each serve their turn as princess, predator and prey.

In the forest, growing fangs. Photo: Pat Moran

In the forest, growing fangs. Photo: Pat Moran

Ideally, adolescence is the most aggressive phase in life. It’s when you learn, by experimenting, how much physical or mental force you need to exert if you want to defend yourself without damaging others. Because this is a drama, of course these characters overstep and people get hurt. The script is gritty, even shocking in spots, but all in service to the process of testing boundaries. Hopefully, the worst things people will ever say to you in your life are the things you hear in high school, before everyone knows better.