‘Neighborhood 3’ shows the perils of video game addiction
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 21:10
The line between online life and reality under the imminent threat of zombies is blurred in the University Player’s second production, “Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom” written by Jennifer Haley and directed by Travis Biship. Playing in the Player’s Theater on the west side of the Cal State Long Beach campus, this production immediately immerses the audience into the world of an online video game and the effect it has on the relationships between the characters.
The play’s setting and the home of the characters is a suburban neighborhood made up of identical houses. Within the neighborhood, teenagers are completely addicted to a video game that uses satellite technology to create a setting identical to their actual neighborhood.
Throughout the play the effects of the video game on domestic and social matters grow more and more threatening. The small cast of versatile actors play multiple roles throughout the production and give different perspectives on the effects of the game on their relationships.
Daniel Nakawatase plays the “Father-Type” and Jasmine McLeod plays the “Mother-Type,” who voice their worries and frustrations and try to connect with their completely consumed children. Andrew Puente plays the “Son-Type” and Suzannah Gratz plays the “Daughter-Type” who are often shown as players in the game.
The relationships between the characters vary scene by scene. The young people’s addiction to the game is so strong that conversations about things other than the game are almost nonexistent. A notable scene involves the Daughter-Type attempting to use her womanly charm to connect with the Son-Type, but he is so focused on playing the game he seems blind to anything else.
Another fascinating scene involves the Father-Type, who is forced to get his daughter’s attention after a siren blares outside. He is driven to forcefully move despite her complete resistance. This illuminates the zombie-like mindlessness of the teenagers.
Near the end, two siblings talk about how they see no point in taking part in an intervention for their alcoholic father. This offers the idea of escapism, a valid reason why the game has taken over their lives.
The stage is covered in checkered post-it notes, which is how the players are given clues in the game. Televisions scatter the stage floor as well as above the stage that broadcast a live video feed. Even when there are scenes occurring that are not a part of the game, the stage and the feed give a disconnected feel to the whole production.
Actor Eric Larson gives a fascinating performance as a personification of the game itself. He plays a narrator for the transition between scenes in the form of a video walkthrough. Each performance is also filmed live and he often carries the camera. This character is literally embedded in the audience from the start, which represents the ubiquitous nature of the game.
“Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom” runs through Saturday. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p .m. with Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $12 for seniors and students with valid ID. For tickets and information, call (562) 985-5526 or visit www.csulb.edu/depts/theatre.