Monday, June 19, 2017

Play Review: Flying V Fights: The Secret History of the Unknown World

Image found here
I saw this play on a complete whim at the Writer's Center in Bethesda. I knew there was a little theater like that in the area (a friend of mine goes all the time), but I had never actually gone to see a performance there. I'm under the impression that the small group from Flying V Theatre wrote the play themselves and acts it out, so I was very impressed by their creativity and how much work went into the production.
This is a VERY physical play! I think all the actors had several bruises... Image found here
The play is broken down into many parts, each with a little mini-story (some of them do come full circle at the end, though). They are a mix of history and sci-fi, taking us from the late 1800's to today. For example, "The Devil of Two Cities" part clearly is in reference to the Dickens story; the two cities are London and Chicago, and a female Detective Holmes chases a bad guy across the Atlantic to discover he is Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. I loved seeing all of these famous characters in new stories: the Bride of Frankenstein is a burlesque dancer and a WWE-like fighter; the Three Musketeers include Zorro, the Lone Ranger, and a wanna-be John Wayne cowboy; Tarzan meets King Kong while James Bond falls for a female Indiana Jones; a "Wolfside Story" pits teenage vampires and werewolves against each other à la Grease or Thriller, and of course lots of knock-off superheros were involved; Agent J from Men in Black made an appearance (or was it Neo from The Matrix?), as did Dr. Who's TARDIS, the birds from The Birds, and Nancy Drew herself. The cast took well-known characters and stories and made them their own! How cool is that?!

Superman had a "P" on his chest, but I never figured out why... Image found here
Because this is a small theater, not everything can be high-tech. Some of the effects were a little campy, like the puppet squid and monster from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. But I was still impressed by much of what I saw. There were three large screens near the ceiling that would show drawings or images from the different time periods, which kept you engaged during the set changes. There was part of the set that was a big block that was used in different ways: it was just a large step for most of the time, but could be a table in the middle of the stage or give the illusion of a deep hole if pushed out a little from the edge of the stage. The set also included a metal, upright grid that actors climbed upon throughout the play (the play was very physical, from climbing to jumping to crawling, and of course lots of fighting!).

The only things I didn't like were quite minor, and some could hardly be controlled. The guns used in plays are so loud and startling, so I never like those. And I think in one of the skits that was supposed to take place in 1968, there was a voicemail played; voicemail wasn't invented until 1979. One of the cast members had a horrible dragon/double helix tattoo across his back, so that was very distracting every time he had his shirt off (which was often, because he's a big, buff guy); the bad fake facial hair used for some costumes also detracted from the play. But all of this must be taken with a grain of salt, since this is a small, rather new theater company, and in the grand scheme of things for such a fun, imaginative production, these blips don't really mean much. I was overall so impressed that I joined the Flying V Fan League! I can't wait to see the next show!

Here's a review from DC Metro Theater Arts:

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