In the neighborhood created by the theater department at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham, the teenagers are obsessed with a new video game. Their parents are trying to engage them while zombies lurk in the shadows.
“Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom,” written by Jennifer Haley, shows what might happen when the world depicted in a video game becomes real for its players and their families. Director Dana Wieluns Legawiec mines the script that is a campy sendup not only of violent video games but also the horror movie genre.
Haley’s plays are about how technology impacts society and individuals. Written in 2008, “Neighborhood 3” is not as sophisticated or nuanced as “The Nether,” first performed five years later. “The Nether,” produced earlier this year by Mad Horse Theatre Company of South Portland, is about virtual reality and how it might be used to fulfill people’s baser instincts without actually harming anyone.
“Neighborhood 3” is simpler and sillier. The game uses global positioning to let players hunt zombies in their own neighborhoods. Gradually, the game and reality become inseparable.
The fine ensemble cast plays multiple roles that are listed as types in the program. Brittany Burke as daughter type, Griffin Gingrich as son type, Savannah Irish as mother type and DJ Monteith as father type give depth to what were written as caricatures.
Monteith is especially good as several suburban dad types. He seems slightly more comfortable onstage than his castmates. While Haley may have written stereotypes, Monteith creates full fledged characters.
The set designed by Perry Fertig and the lighting, created by Corey Anderson, give the productions and light and airy feel that belies the darkness of the game. The costumes, designed by Anna Grywalski, lovingly reflect the clothes worn by characters in television sitcoms about suburban life.
The drama department at USM in recent years has undergone a generation change with new teachers replacing those who led the department for decades. “Neighborhood 3” proves that USM continues a commitment to challenging its students and its audience with new works while exploring the classics; William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” will be performed next month.
“Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom” will be performed through Sunday at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham. For information, call 780-5151 or visit https://usm.maine.edu/theatre/box-office-hours.