November 20, 2015

The homey voice of Mister Rogers can be heard chirping that “it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood” shortly before the latest production at the Flea Theater begins. But the audience knows that beautiful days are unlikely to be on the menu. The title of the show is “Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom,” and everyone is happily braced for the campy scarefest that would seem to be signaled by the contrast between the neighborhoods of a children’s television song and those of this play’s reality. Or rather, virtual reality. Written by Jennifer Haley, “Neighborhood 3” takes place mostly in an alternate online universe that simulates the natural habitat of the kids playing the game of the title. And since Ms. Haley is the author of “The Nether,” presented by the MCC earlier this year and perhaps the most sophisticated (and disturbing) onstage exploration to date of Internet addiction, expectations are understandably high for this variation on the same theme. Yet “Neighborhood 3,” which has been staged by the indefatigable film director Joel Schumacher, never convincingly inhabits either of its principal settings — the green, green grassy world of the all-American suburbs or its creepy computer-rendered counterpart. Though it was seen in an earlier version more than seven years ago at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, Ky., this work still appears to take place on that flat, in-between zone of creativity commonly known as the drawing board.