Zombie play brings laughter to suburbs

By Azia Squire

“Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom”

Oct. 30 through Nov. 28

Directed by: Matt M…. “Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom”

Oct. 30 through Nov. 28

Directed by: Matt M. Morrow

Theater: Bricolage Theatre Co.

Ticket price: $15-$20

Number: 412-381-6999

Website to buy tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/85826

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the suburbs? Zombies, right?

After Jennifer Haley’s play, “Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom”, arrives at Pittsburgh’s Bricolage Theatre Co. Oct. 30, the terms “suburbs” and “zombies” might be synonymous.

Running through Nov. 28 and directed by Matt M. Morrow, “Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom” explores the relationship between parents and kids, kids and video games and video games and zombies.

“It’s a wide and abstract piece at times,” director Matt M. Morrow said, noting that it tows the lines between satirical and serious, and consistent and non-linear.

The CMU alumnus and New York-based director got involved with the project through Bricolage Theatre Co.’s producing artistic director, Tami Dixon.

They first met at Carnegie Mellon and stayed in touch over the years, staying up-to-date on each other’s projects.

When “Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom” hit his desk, Morrow couldn’t pass up the project he gushingly described as “very smart and well-written.”

The play is set in a generic suburban subdivision with identical houses, where some neighborhood parents are horrified to discover the recent addiction of their teenaged children to an online video game that’s also set in a suburb, and the plot is to kill the army of zombies invading it and escape the neighborhood.

But it’s not long before the line between video game and reality starts to blur. The set-up is inspired by the way avatars interact in a video game.

“It’s staged with a slight of hand,” Morrow said, explaining that the characters don’t realize they’re engulfed in a video game, but the audience does.

The kind of illusion this play provides demands precision and dedication from its actors, and according to Morrow, the featured actors, Bjorn Ahlstedt, Tony Bingham, Jacqueline Marie Farkas and Randy Kovitz, provide it.

“The actors are great. They’re really strong actors. They understand [the work] on a visceral and intellectual level.”

Pittsburgh may not be the first place it was performed on stage, but “Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom” does have a home here. Besides having Dixon and Morrow on staff, two of the actors are Pittsburgh natives.

Despite the video game and zombie antics, Morrow clarifies that the piece does touch on some serious cultural issues concerning violence in the media and communication among family members.

“I think the playwright [Haley] has strong opinions about how we interact socially,” he said. “The issues are with how we talk about our social ills and how we communicate with children and each other. The violence we see in school results in kids feeling isolated from each other.”

Morrow describes “Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom” as “visceral”, and the strangeness of the plot is only furthered by the setting, which, in itself, can send a shiver down the spine because of its automaton nature ­—a suburban subdivision with identical houses.

Still, Morrow says it’s symbolic of mostly two things: the tendency for teen violence to explode in small towns that never see it coming and the deterioration of family values and understanding.

“There are certain things you’re expected to be [in families], and you’re supposed to fit into a perfect mold,” he said, explaining that specific things are expected of fathers, mothers, daughters and sons and those demands don’t leave much room for individuality.

“There’s a limited number of options. You start to feel trapped and look for an escape.”

The escape that the teens in “Neighborhood 3” find turns out surprisingly dangerous not just for them, but for their parents as well.

About the causes of these needs for labeling and escape, Morrow said, “I think it’s just how we communicate, [there’s a lack] of honesty and approach. Parents lack understanding about where kids are socially … and this ties into children pulling away from viewing their parents as leaders.”

Though it touches on some serious social issues, Morrow insists that “Neighborhood 3” isn’t all business.

“It’s more comedy than horror.”