Culture Monster

All the Arts, All the Time

« Previous Post | Culture Monster Home | Next Post »

Theater review: ‘Neighborhood III: Requisition of Doom' at Sacred Fools Theater

March 26, 2010 |  4:30 pm
400.amy_talebizadeh_eric_curtis_johnson Suburbia turns in on itself in "Neighborhood III: Requisition of Doom." Jennifer Haley's play about an online video game that mirrors its teenage players' own community receives an impressively determined West Coast premiere at Sacred Fools.
A hit at the 2008 Humana Festival of New Plays, "Neighborhood" transpires in an archetypal subdivision of faceless domiciles (sparely designed by James W. Thompson Jr.). Recent disturbing occurrences have the Homeowner's Association-fearing adults concerned without quite comprehending.
They need look no further than their detached progeny, all addicted to the titular diversion. A mixture of scavenger hunt and zombie attack, "Neighborhood II" uses satellite and GPS technology (evoked by Kwasi Boyd's deliberately rudimentary projections and Eric Vesbit's all-too-serene voiceover) to create a virtual reality identical to the actual neighborhood. As both realities converge, the dystopian satire of the opening scenes enters the realms of outright thriller.
Director Jaime Robledo treats this material with equal parts stylized austerity and emotional verisimilitude. Lighting designer Matt Richter's illuminated cubes, dormer windows and noir-ish washes work in tandem with Mark McClain Wilson's omni-directional sound plot to create an ever-changing blank page.
The strongest aspect of Haley's script is its sardonic take on living in suburban Hell and the communication rift it creates within families. Eric Curtis Johnson and Lynn Odell portray all the parents, Amy Talebizadeh and Adam Trent all the kids, and they switch personas and tones with disciplined finesse.
What's lacking is a consistent match-up between the Shirley Jackson-flavored overview and the Wes Craven-tinged plot. The visual restraint puts the exchanges up front, but it doesn't exactly chill our blood, and the narrative's final swerves into graphic novel territory are almost another property. Still, "Neighborhood III" has cult favorite written all over it, at least until the inevitable film version comes along.

– David C. Nichols
"Neighborhood III: Requisition of Doom," Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Drive, Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Ends April 24. $20. (310) 281-8337. Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes.

Photo: Amy Talebizadeh and Eric Curtis Johnson. Photo credit: Haven Hartman.