Theatre Mirror Reviews - Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom"

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note: entire contents copyright 2010 by Larry Stark

"Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom"

by Jennifer Haley
Directed by Danielle Fauteux Jacques

Assistant Director Jim Fagan
Set by Julia Noulin-Merat
Lighting Design by Danielle Fauteux Jacques
Costume & Prop Design by Paul S. Bedford-Bruce
Sound Design/Composition by Aaron Mack
Technical Director Mark DiGiovanni
Assistant Stage Manager Alexander Turov
Stage Manager Freya Grunden

Makaela/Madison............Megan Reynolds
Trevor/Jared.............Sathya Sridharan
Steve.......................Phil Thompson
Leslie Vicki.....Danielle Fauteux Jacques
Kaitlyn/Chelsea...........Carolyn Charpie
Doug/Tobias...................Brian Quint
Ryan/Blake AKA Zombieslayer14...Erez Rose
Barbara/Joy................Danielle DiDio

Have you ever used the sort of ultimate Map-Quest that can show a satellite-photo so detailed you can actually pick out the house you live in? Well, in Jennifer Haley's "Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom" that personalized map is the "virtual neighborhood" upon which game-addicted teens team-up against slaughterable zombies on a quest to enter their Final Door. Parents are worried because the kids spend every waking moment with their Game-Boys or X-Boxes and there's no communication between generations anymore. But, step by step, game and reality slowly merge until --- well, you don't want to know what's actually behind that Final Door --- do you?

This is not a sci-fi romp. Science fiction deals with the future, while the Apollinaire Theatre Company over in Chelsea is dealing with realities only a moment or two beyond Now. In the first scene two teens (Megan Reynolds & Sathya Sridharan) are in an awkward "first-date" --- though it becomes clear that he's attracted only because her brother has an X-Box and she knows where he keeps the games. Conversation is always stilted in this situation, but there's something else here: The quick stacatto exchange is in short, simple, almost twitterspeak sentences, as though the two were distant from one another. And another subtle truth becomes more obvious in the second exchange between two parents (Phil Thompson & Danielle Fauteux Jacques) --- the first time they've talked over the hedge between their properties: People talk, but they seem never to listen to one another.

Between scenes in this gripping 75-minute descent into the game, figures in near-darkness mechanically reposition set-pieces on an enclosed square game-board, while a series of stylized doors across the back illuminate objects or weapons that may be found there (a hammer, hedge-clippers, a Bar-B-Q fork), and the disembodied voice of the Game dictates actions, then announces players' names. Sound-Creator Aaron Mack, Set Designer Julia Noulin-Merat and Director Danielle Fauteux Jacques doubling as Lighting Designer have combined to make these highly stylized duologues eerily motionless yet breathlessly emotional. Each of the eight actors appears as two different characters, emphasizing their game-piece quality. And, as in a good thriller-film, it's always what they don't say and what you don't see that is chillingly important.

The spill of game into reality begins with a family cat hit by a Hummer --- probably --- and one scene has a player, eyes rivetted to a screen, fighting off hordes of zombies with a long, impassioned string of "Die! Die! Die!-Die!-Die!-Die! Die!-Die! Die! Die!" shots ending the scene. A two-parent encounter (Danielle L. DiDio & Brian Quint) has him loudly weed-wacking his lawn (Every Day!), mourning the cat buried under it, and apparently slipping off the edge of reality.

In a game like this, maybe it's best not to know what's behind ..... oh, wasn't that a knock at your door? Shouldn't you answer it, maybe?

I'll wait.

( a k a larry stark )

"Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom" (12 February - 14 March)
@ Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet Street, CHELSEA MA

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