Neighbourhood 3: Requisition of Doom
19/08/2009 - 22/08/2009
In Neighbourhood 3: Requisition of Doom there’s a sinister sense of humour, mystery, impending doom and a cunning self-awareness of horror conventions. "I’m dying to play Neighbourhood 3" says a teenager pining for an Xbox. A suburban nightmare about the carefully constructed realities of both suburbia and online gaming…. the boundaries between the suburban world an its virtual mirror may be breaking down.
For Jennifer Hayley, "ultimately it’s about people trying to communicate with each other, and being woefully incapable of it. For me, that’s the true horror."
Directed by Gaye Poole, Carving in Ice (Cosi, Compleat Female Stage Beauty, Half Life, Attempts on her Life) presents this slyly genre-bending play.
Produced by special arrangement with William Morris Agency, Inc.
makaela: Zoe Vaile
trevor: Alex Tarrant-Keepa
steve: Alistair Swale
leslie: Sara Young
vicki: Kathleen Christian
kaitlyn: Louise Blackstock
beside the pool:
doug: Michael Forde
ryan: Stuart Dunn
jared: Jacques Fourie
madison: Danielle Gray
tobias: Richard Homan
barbara: Mandy Faulkner
steve: Alistair Swale
chelsea: Keagan Fransch
zombiekllr14: Jason Tolley
barbara: Mandy Faulkne
the final house:
blake: Jason Tolley
joy: Athene Jensen
Sound Operation: Caleb Poutapu
Costumes: Gaye Poole
Zombiekllr14 Costume: Joss Robertson/Cherie Cooke
Props: Delwyn Dellow/Gaye Poole
Publicity/Promotion: Delwyn Dellow/Gaye Poole
Poster/Postcard Design: Amrita Sahay
Programme Design: Delwyn Dellow
Games Consultant: Gareth Schott
PS Walkthroughs: Bill Rogers
NPC Wrangler: Ivan Timbrell
Crew: James Henderson/Kate Magazinovic
Front of House Co-ordination: Jacques Fourie
Direction/Design: Gaye Poole
Production/Stage Management: Delwyn Dellow
Lighting Design/Operation: Michael Lamusse
Scene background stills/animation design: Grant Sherson
Data Projection Operation: Stuart Dunn/Michael Lamusse
Sound Design: Dan Howard
Review by Gail Pittaway 21st Aug 2009
Note: This full review was first published in abbreviated form in the Waikato Times.
Imagine a world in which young people don’t talk to their parents and choose to escape from the monotony of their suburban landscapes into virtual worlds of games. Worlds where virtuality becomes more exciting than reality. Not so difficult is it?
This recent play by American author Jennifer Haley translates remarkably easily into a contemporary NZ town, with brick and tile suburbs, empty streets and vast silences between generations. While there have been many notable movies which play upon virtual reality – dating from perhaps Tron and Ghost in the Machine – this might be one of the few plays which tackle the idea. It’s relevant, compelling and very entertaining. The kids are more alive online than AFK (away from the keyboard); the parents think the kids have become monsters, then call themselves monsters when they realise they have ignored them and allowed this to happen.
The Carving In Ice Company, directed by Gaye Poole, is perfectly placed to realise the concept. For its relatively young cast, already experienced with interpreting and working on plays with unpredictable set-ups or unusual scripts, like Attempts on her Life, this play is probably rather straight forward. Each scene is enacted between two characters–combinations of parents and /or children, of four families in the same neighbourhood.
While the characters interact they are also not entirely rounded—rather more as if dazed or dulled. Only when two young characters interact as in the opening scene, between Zoe Vaile and Alex Tarrant Keepa, is there a sense of authenticity and transaction of energy. For the most, however, the play suppresses that instinct of connection in performance by providing a stilted script, stereotypical, flattened characters, and, structured in episodes, a fractured narrative that inexplicably suggests impending threat. In other words, it’s mimicking the very games it is describing.
The cast are evenly good – from the establishing scene already mentioned it moves to building suspense, to a girlfriend and mother politely discussing a son/boyfriend as if talking about different people. Then a son and father discuss the mysterious death and treatment of a cat as if they are having two other conversations; two neighbours, adults from two households, discuss their children and the smashing of a garden gnome; and in yet another scene a mother confronts a neighbour wielding a weed-eater like an AK47. All sense doom in the neighbourhood.
Standout performances are from, Keagan Fransch as Chelsea and Alistair Swale as Steve, Mandy Faulkner as Barbara, and Jason Tolley as Blake/Zombiekllr. Michael Forde, Richard Homan, Sara Young and Michael Gaastra as game master also shine, while Athene Jensen shifts reality back and forward in the closing scene with chilling intensity.
In every good show there’s at least one moment when it all comes together like opera– the acting, the script, the lighting and sound, the properties and set. In this production, while each scene is arresting and each part a cameo, that moment came when the computer game of "Neighourhood 3" came alive on stage. A woman and an avatar, with a background of moving street scene, moving at the pace of their running feet – neither knowing who is real or indeed what reality is any more.
I drove home through the brick and tile suburbs and empty streets to boot my son off his new computer game download and get to the computer. Unreal.
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