Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom
Teens and parents attempt to come together - with horrific results - in the Halloween-themed entertainment "Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom" presented by Happy Medium Theatre.
Virtual reality outpaces regular life in Jennifer Haley’s spooky "Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom." Appropriately structured like a video game with levels of play, the grim comedy is at once a parable on parents who have failed to develop nurturing relationships with their teenage offspring as well as a fun night at the theater at Halloween.
The zombie fraught show opens the 3rd season for Happy Medium Theater, which started out as a group of theater-minded students at Boston University and specializes in contemporary drama that speaks to their generation.
Insightfully directed by company co-artistic directors Mikey DiLoreto and Audrey Lynn Sylvia (who also take parts), "Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom" continues through Oct. 29 with Thursday through Saturday night performances at the Factory Theatre, at the back of 791 Tremont St., in Boston’s Lower Roxbury neighborhood near Northeastern University.
A suburban division of mirror-image houses is far from the safe haven from city ills the parents in "Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom" thought they were fleeing to; that is because they’ve brought their monsters with them.
These monsters include such fixations as alcoholism and materialism, which these narcissistic adults indulge at the expense of good parenting, resulting in faulty relations at best with their children, who look elsewhere for comfort and guidance.
As the play begins, the adults are only now catching on that the kids are wound up in an online horror video game. Baffled by the absorption the teens have to their computer play, some of the moms attempt interventions with horrific results.
Regularly performed since 2008 at the Actors Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival with four actors taking all the parts, HMT has instead cast 19 actors, one per role.
All of these young actors are competent even when their youth works against them in establishing the age difference in the role of a mom or dad.
Some of them give outstanding performances as the various levels of play escalates the tension created on the one hand by the army of zombies plaguing the teens’ avatars on screen and on the other by the adults increasingly stern, if fruitless attempts at establishing the lost communication with their children. Particularly note worthy is Luke Murtha as a distraught teen whose cat has been killed, maybe run over by a hummer driven by a teen whose parents supplied him with this outlandish car or as part of the video game tactics to repel zombies.
While Diloreto and Sylvia’s direction provides exemplary clarity to a drama that is working on two realities at once and moves a large number of people around a really small stage area to good effect, the play would benefit from an increasing sense of doom and mayhem as the story progresses and a more chilling cat and mouse duel between mother and son in the final level. Chris Larson provides an excellent sound design.
Haley’s "Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom" may well have taken part of its title from Win Butler’s song for Arcade Fire about an ice storm in 1998 that left Montreal in darkness for over a week with its eerie lyric "Kids are dying out in the snow." She has balanced that apocalypse setting with a tone more reminiscent of Bobby "Boris" Pickett’s novelty 1962 song "Monster Mash," a perennial holiday favorite ever since.
Happy Medium Theatre has tuned in to both tones effectively for their zombie outing..
Happy Medium Theatre’s production of Jennifer Haley’s "Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom" runs through October 29 at the Factory Theatre, 791 Tremont Street, Lower Roxbury about a block from Mass Ave. at the back of the Piano Craft Building. For ticket and other info go to the theater’s website or view the show’s page at brownpapertickets.com..