A riveting and genre-bending thriller, the contemporary play Neighborhood 3: Requisition Of Doom, written by Jennifer Haley, is the standout hit from the prestigious 2008 Humana Festival of New Plays.
The play”™s intriguing title refers to the third in a fictional series of addictive warfare videogames, featuring combat against zombies, that employs satellite technology to map out the very neighborhoods of its players. As the gamers make their progress through the various levels of the videogame, the line between the real world and the fantasy virtual world begins to blur. What was once a simple if stifling housing subdivision now becomes a nightmarish grid of streets and houses, each one holding the promise of elevation to the Final Level or the possibility of a gruesome end.
In a compact 85 minutes, Jennifer Haley”™s inventive and compelling play walks the knife edge of humor and terror as it takes the neighborhood”™s residents (sixteen characters deftly played by an ensemble of four actors) for a paranoid ride, fueled by the inability of the clueless, desperate and passively permissive parents to communicate with their troubled and disaffected kids. One parent comments on this all-consuming addiction, “She plays [the video game] every waking moment”¦ We didn”™t know we”™d never see her again.”
Although I was well-aware that the cast were doubling up on roles, I have to admit I was genuinely surprised to see only four actors taking their bows at the conclusion of this fast-paced and accelerating thrill ride. The tight-knit cast of four – Eric Curtis Johnson, Lynn Odell, Amy Talebizadeh and Adam Trent – are well directed by Jaime Robledo.
A highlight is one of the Dad”™s unnerving story about his sister, noting “There”™s nothing more scary than your own family.” Here Eric Curtis Johnson garnered some applause for his performance in that scene.
Sound designer Mark McClain Wilson and composer Michael Teoli have created a spooky soundscape for Haley”™s chilling one-act play that draws the parallel between Ponzi sales schemes and spurious religions with video games, where you are always straining to make it to the next level. One dialogue exchange between the teenaged characters notes how the “sicker the game, the more they like it.” The other”™s response, “Sometimes you need a place to be sick…”
This is the stuff of mass murder nightmares.
Don”™t miss this stunning production.
NEIGHBORHOOD 3: REQUISITION OF DOOM
runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. until April 24th, 2010
plus Thursday, April 8 at 8:00 p.m.
and Tuesday, April 13 at 8:00 p.m.
***Special TALKBACK with cast and crew after the Tuesday, April 13th 8pm show, moderated by Jenelle Riley of Backstage***
Sacred Fools Theater
660 N. Heliotrope Dr., Los Angeles, CA, 90004.
Tickets are $20.
Phone reservations at (310) 281-8337 or online
Sacred Fools is dedicated to creating and fostering a dynamic, empowered artistic community in Los Angeles. The company was recently nominated for 16 awards for recent productions by the L.A. Weekly. Notable previous productions include the brilliant silent satire of Shakespeare Hamlet Shut Up!, the ongoing late-night episodic extravaganza Serial Killers, and the award-winning musical Louis & Keely. Sacred Fools is run solely by the ensembled artists. We have an ongoing commitment to the development of new plays and projects which challenge traditional expectations of the theatrical experience. Our goal is to produce work that invigorates, enlightens and entertains.
Review by Pauline Adamek