2nd Story Theatre's second Upstage show of the season is "Neighborhood Watch" by Alan Ayckbourn. When anxious residents of Bluebell Hill Development alarmed by the "threat'' of roving inner city youths, take the law into their own hands, their ad hoc vigilante movement takes an absurdly tragicomic turn. The residents include mild mannered middle aged Martin and his sister, Hilda as well as the gung ho, ex-army man, Rod, the gossipy busybody, Dorothy, the mousy, Gareth who likes medieval torture devices, Gareth's pretty wife, Amy who is hot to trot, music teacher, Magda and her husband, Luther who objects to Martin's over the top dictatorship tactics as the play progresses. Martin and Hilda innocently set up this neighborhood watch that spirals out of control, leading to tragic results. This was Ayckbourn's 75th play, unfortunately it does not live up to other comic scripts, he has written. The characters for the most part are very unlikable even though there is a stellar cast performing these roles. Director Ed Shea uses Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood song for this show to try to lighten the underlying tensions that abound in it. Ayckbourn has some comic scenes sprinkled in the midst of this script but it is not up to the usual standards of his script writing.
There is quite a bit of tongue twisting dialogue in this show that was not given the precision it should have but I am sure it will get better as time goes on. However two of the funniest characters in the show that stand out are Lynne Collinson as Dorothy, the gossipy neighbor. She commands the stage in her role, giving it the energy and finesse to pull it off superbly. The second one is Pamela Morgan who plays the trampy neighbor, Amy, winning many laughs at her outrageous behavior and foul language. So if you'd like to catch "Neighborhood Watch" at 2nd Story Theatre, it runs from now till December 6. It goes from social satire with genuine domestic distress thrown in with a heavy dose of absurdity.