note: entire contents copyright 2010 by Sheila Barth
After watching Apollinaire Theatre Co.’s one-act, freaky, fascinating production of Jennifer Haley’s “Neighborhood 3:Requisition of Doom,” I spoke with director-actor Danielle Fauteux-Jacques, discussing this play’s many veils and layers that keep the audience rapt throughout the show.
In the same genre of teen-age sci-fi horror flicks, where reality and virtual reality meld, this production goes further. It tackles teenagers’ obsession with video games, cell phones, and text messaging, to the point of excluding everything else. Fauteux-Jacques says the play is based on lack of communication between parents and their children, but also kids‘ communicating less in person with peers, and increasingly through electronics.
In the opening scenes, even though teenagers Jared and Makaela have lived near each other for four years, in the same neighborhood, and attend the same school, they’ve never gotten together. He’s nervous, standoffish, as she comes on to him, but lights up when she says her brother Cody has been actively playing and achieving a level of supremacy with the super popular video game, “Neighborhood 3”. Jared becomes manic, ecstatic, when Makaela agrees to let him use her brother’s computer and log into the game, that, ironically, mirrors their upscale, cookie-cutter neighborhood.
Between eerie music, Aaron Mack’s sound effects, and Fauteux-Jacques and crew’s blood red and darkened lights, each scene becomes the next step in the game, as the video announcer gives instructions, announces, then spotlights the players, who spring into action.
Frustrated individual parents try to talk with their children or neighbors’ children, and on one occasion, with each other, when parent Steve accidentally kicks uptight parent Leslie’s lawn troll. He apologizes to her, and the two lament their helplessness in reaching their children, trying to pull them away from their video game.
Between hued, illuminated boxed background items, such as a dripping hammer, and similar household props that assume phantasmagoric double entendre, coupled with jarring sounds like wailing sirens that become increasingly frequent and louder; along with the characters‘ mounting fear, compulsion and obsession, the play ends horrifyingly, with the audience deciphering between virtual reality and reality.
Despite most characters’ being double-cast, there’ no confusion, because Paul S. Benford-Bruce’s costumes and the cast’s stirring portrayals are distinctive. Besides playing dual roles as Vicki and Leslie, Fauteux-Jacques performs with Carolyn Charpie, who as teens Chelsea and Kaitlyn, dons and doffs her personas easily, as does Megan Reynolds as teens Makaela and Madison. Satya Sridharan as teens Trevor and Jared; Phil Thompson as Steve the parent; Brian Quint as Doug and Tobias; Erez Rose as weepy, scared Ryan and Blake, whose game character is zombiwslayer14; and Danielle L. DiDio as parents Barbara and Joy are fascinating.
This provocative, creepy play is a must-see for parents of school-age kids. It’s also an excellent discussion vehicle for presentation in high schools. You may not like “Neighborhood 3:Requisiton of Doom,” but you’ll leave the theater talking and thinking about it, reflecting on your own lives and families.
One-act, 75-minute drama, appearing now through March 14, at the Chelsea Theatre Works. 189 Winnisimmet St., Chelsea. Performances are Friday, Saturday, at 8 p.m.; midnight show, Saturday, March 6; matinee, March 14, at 3 p.m. Advance tickets, $25; at the door, $30; advance senior tickets, $20; student rush tickets an hour before the show, $15. There are post-performance receptions in the gallery with the actors. Call 617-887-2336 or visit www.apollinairetheatre.com.