Even casual horror fans will recognize the setup: An idyllic suburban neighborhood, populated by working dads, stay-at-home moms, and hormonal teenagers, soon becomes the setting for unspeakable violence. But unlike Scream or Halloween or so many other slasher flicks, the real monsters in Molotov Theatre Group’s new show, Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom (by Jennifer Haley) are the neighbors themselves.
In this grim, gory, and visually intoxicating new addition to the bloody canon of Grand Guignol, Director David Dieudonne takes the audience on a roller coaster that lambasts millenials’ addiction to technology even as it slams an older generation of parents who would rather plop their kids in front of a screen than have a real conversation. For horror and non-horror fans alike, its sheer singularity in both story and style make it a true gem of the Fringe.
Four of the five cast members in Neighborhood play multiple roles, demarcated by slight changes of costume (designed by Jen Bevan) and mostly successful character shifts. Jen Bevan and Yoni Gray play all eight of the teens we meet, while Alex Zavistovich and Annette Mooney Wasno portray the collective parents. Brian Kraemer is blessed with only a single role, an extremely creepy personification of the “Walkthroughs” that guide players through the game.
The neighborhood kids range from concerned friends to lusty drug dealers, but they have one thing in common: they can’t get enough of this new computer game, Neighborhood 3, which uses real satellite data to allow players to kill zombies in a virtual world that looks identical to their own neighborhood. The more the players get sucked into their virtual world, the boundaries between the physical and the digital begin to blur like so many cracked pixels. And then… well, you can probably fill in the rest. Indeed, there are few real surprises in Neighborhood 3, just like you can probably guess that, yeah, Jason’s probably gonna kill most of the kids you meet in the first scene. The straightforward trajectory of the plot doesn’t diminish from the rush of going deeper and deeper into a virtual hell, and the final moments are not for the faint of heart.
The best part of Neighborhood 3 is that despite a script that is weak in many places, it manages to create an immerse atmosphere of intrigue and terror. Utilizing a brilliant projection and set design by Rachel Marie Wallace, and a creepy, David Lynch-ian soundtrack composed by Gregory Thomas Martin, Neighborhood 3 is unsettling from the start, and the tension only increases as the show rattles along.
There are some eye-roll inducing moments in the dialogue: “We give him everything he needs…” and “there’s no moving up… there’s no getting out” are a little too on-the-nose to be taken seriously. But then again, one should expect a little melodrama when one sees a play about videogame zombies that come to life.
There isn’t any reason why cinema should have a monopoly on scaring the pants off you, and Molotov Theatre Group shows that with solid acting and innovative, well-integrated design, a night at the theatre can be a bloody good time.
Neigborhood 3: Requisition of Doom plays through August 2, 2015 at Molotov Theatre Group, performing at DC Arts Center – 2438 18th Street NW, in Washington, D.C. Tickets can be purchased at the door or or on their Capital Fringe Page.
2015 Capital Fringe Preview #32: Video Preview of ‘Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom’ by Jennifer Haley.
2015 Capital Fringe Festival Preview #39: ‘Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom’: Part 1: The Curious Incident of the Zombies in the Neighborhood’ by Alex Zavistovich.