When I was cast in Molotov Theatre Group’s show Neighborhood 3:Requisition of Doom (now through August 2nd at DCAC, in Adams Morgan: www.molototheatre.org), I was pretty excited because, hey, I’m an actor and I got cast in a show! But during the rehearsal process seeds of doubt began to sprout in my mind.
Not right away, mind you. After reading through the script for the first time, I was so excited by the unusual structure, the dark comedic elements and the suspenseful plot that I gave it a second read that same day. The promise of learning about the Grand Guignol style of theatre, which is what Molotov is all about, was tantalizing. I drooled at the prospect of creating four distinct characters who would appear in quick succession in the course of the play. Not only that, but the characters are all suburban moms who are clueless about on-line gaming. That’s a role I’ve played in real life for over 20 years now. No need for a lot of dramaturgy here! Everything seemed perfect.
Then we started getting into the details about the more messy parts of the show: the fight scenes; the blood and the gory special effects; the emotionally charged climax of the play. I started to wonder, “What have I gotten myself into?”
I mean, the process was a great challenge with a lot to teach me about my craft, but could I really invite my friends to see THIS KIND of show? My theatre friends – no big deal. They’d love everything from the tension-heightening music and sound effects by Gregory Thomas Martin to the eerie lighting from Pete Vargo to the inventive projections by Rachel Marie Wallace, and creative costumes from Jen Bevan.
Oh, and the acting, of course (cough, cough!).
But what about my friends from church? My former co-workers and classmates? My suburban mom friends? Would they REALLY want to come see this? If they did come, would they keep their distance from me, eyeing me with looks of disgust and suspicion, for the rest of our lives?
Well, the more we rehearsed, telling and re-telling the story it became evident that there are messages underneath all the horror, truths that we all can stand to be reminded of. That we all need one another, need in-person human interaction to keep from becoming “zombies.” That facing fears and problems can be difficult and messy, but ignoring them can lead to a different kind of mess. That distractions are easily available whether they take the form of technological devices or careers or mood-altering substances or obsessive lawn maintenance. They’re nice to have, but you have to make sure they don’t take over your life and keep you from seeing reality.
The characters onstage are familiar to us whether we’re suburbanites, parents, teens, or none of the above. We might even catch a glimpse of ourselves in Neighborhood 3’s streetlights, which can be unsettling. But we’re more inclined to remember the moments that make us uncomfortable, aren’t we?
So in the end I decided to invite everyone I know to the show and tell them ALL about it. I describe Neighborhood 3 as a horror film presented on stage. I talk about the cool technical effects and mention that the plot contains themes about our modern life. Of course, I give the standard warning that this play contains profanity, stage violence, and strobe effects.
And the results? Well, friends from college who last saw me in a Jane Austen period piece were wildly enthusiastic after seeing Neighborhood 3. My church friends were blown away by the show. And the suburban moms? They’re planning to see it as part of a mother-daughter outing with their teens. I’m sure they’ll have a bloody good time!
2015 Capital Fringe Preview #32: Part 1: Video Preview of ‘Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom’ by Jennifer Haley.
2015 Capital Fringe Festival Preview #39: ‘Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom’: Part 2: The Curious Incident of the Zombies in the Neighborhood’ by Alex Zavistovich.
2015 Capital Fringe Review: ‘Neighborhood 3: Part 3: Requisition of Doom’ on DCMetroTheaterArts by David Dieudonne.
2015 Capital Fringe Preview #53: ‘Neighborhood 3: Part 4: ‘What’s a Nice Mom Like You Doing in a Play Like This? ‘By Annette Mooney Wasno.