But the production isn’t memorable enough for nightmares. Rivera has crafted a horror think piece about a band of people who are looking to fight against the man and, in typical theatrical fashion, pontificate about morality. In Granville, N.H., the team has attempted to murder a neighbor and Joe, the mayor of the town. Ever since Joe arrived on the scene life has changed in the small hamlet, and each murderer has a bone to pick with the beast.
Rivera struggles to escape his premise. The first half of the play consists of the guerrillas telling their tales of woe, while the second half counters their stories with the other perspective. Andromache Chalfant’s “Saw”-like set, complete with the requisite bathtub and shower, looks like it could have been pulled from any horror film. (Did I mention that “Massacre” also takes place at a cabin in the woods?) The seven malcontents have little to do with each other. Videographer Janis (Jolly Abraham) is married to Erik (Adrian Martinez), while gay auto mechanic Hector (Brendan Averett) is in love with the gang’s leader, Panama (Jojo Gonzalez). Coffee grinds– and tarot card–reader Lila (Sona Tatoyan) also loves Panama, while schoolteacher Vivy (Dana Eskelson) had a close relationship with the murdered Joe, who turns out to be the only sympathetic character (as Joe, Anatol Yusef delivers the play’s strongest performance).
The cast fully commits to the absurdity that director Brian Mertes has devised. Broken Chord’s creepy sound design and Austin Smith’s eerie lighting augment the fright factor, and Cait O’Connor’s costumes struggle to stay character-appropriate. The killers and their prey simply spend the show’s unwieldy two-and-a-half-hour duration debating the meaning of good and evil. Frankly, I’m not at all sure that they are the best sources.
Presented by and at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, 224 Waverly Place, NYC. April 12–May 12. Mon., Wed.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. (212) 279-4200 or www.ticketcentral.com. Casting by Calleri Casting.