The Flying V—always balls-to-the-wall and full of fun (pun intended, you’ll read why in a few minutes)—has brought back its 2014 Capital Fringe award winning musical, You, or Whatever I Can Get. In bigger, better, bolder (and longer) form. And, just in time for the month of love.
Phil (Vaughn Irving), a loveable, lanky Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) lookalike is ready—despite a penchant for superhero shirts and video games—to be a full-fledged adult. He is going to propose to his girlfriend of seven years, Lisa (Autumn Seavey Hicks). Instead of a resounding yes, Phil hears the worst four words: “We need to talk.” On his birthday. His 30th birthday. It’s, like, the worst possible time to face a break-up in life.
Phil tumbles into a tailspin, whose centripetal force sucks in his piggish best friend Dennis (Doug Wilder), free loving sexual sister Jen (Farrell Parker), and romantically committed roommate Victoria (Suzanne Edgar).
The things is, they were already a little fragile. Dennis, also recently single, may describe his wildest fantasy with enthusiasm (“…a mermaid, but the bottom half is the naughty bits and the top is pizza!”), but he occupies Phil’s couch for weeks in nothing but boxers, mindlessly playing video games and trashing his immediate surroundings.
Victoria—who is a sickly sweet “Wooh!” girl—answers her boyfriend’s calls by insisting he’s her “onesie,” but, she’s dismayed that he really just wants her to make choking sounds during video sex. He seems like a bit of a dick.
And Jen. Surely her promiscuity (three guys in one night) is a symptom of low self-worth. In some ways, it probably is. You get the feeling she’s as tender as she is tough. But, she just buried all the tender.
In You, or Whatever I Can Get, they struggle through dating mishaps and anxiety while belting their hearts (or stoned minds) out to some really stellar musical numbers. Stellar for how they borrow from country, rock, and rap and boast refreshingly funny and honest lyrics to handle deep sentiments.
Phil and Jen duet as they recount their parents own divorce, asking, “Do you think they fucked us up?”, while the whole cast chimes in on a twangy song about online dating. Which makes it painfully clear that as a society we may have gone a little app-happy when it comes to pairing off singletons. Both Victoria and Jen have slower, beautiful solo songs that paint a picture of deeper yearning.
The music is an ever present force that drives the show, even holding it up as it starts to feel a bit long. Steve Przybylsi’s score and riffs are fun and catchy, flirting with all manner of pop music to create a melody mash-up you want to listen to on repeat.
Phil begins as the story’s hero, but Doug Wilder’s Dennis triumphs. Standing on the couch, he finally finds the courage to put his pants back on to embrace a long overdue reality check while rapping the show’s best number. Wilder pretty much rules at that point.
“You don’t have to be all better,” Dennis says as the music dies. “You just have to live life better.” His realization paves the way for Jen to live a little better, Phil to accept that being an adult means handling heartache, and Victoria to not settle for “good enough.”
Funny, and sometimes vulgar, You has its finger on the pulse of generation—one that forged dating norms in the digital age, embraced and mainstreamed its geek roots, and fought against love and family being defined so narrowly. It’s a great celebration of not just love, but of love at that age when you realize that respect for yourself is just as important as romance. And, that while you shouldn’t have to settle, there’s a painful part to all relationships. Real love is plowing through it together, for better or worse.
YOU, OR WHATEVER I CAN GET
February 4 – 28
Flying V Theatre
at The Silver Spring Black Box
8641 Colesville Road
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Thursdays thru Sundays
But—and I admit that I did not see the original production—I wondered if the play is now overly long and how much time the technical difficulties actually added. The play may start focused on Phil, but soon all four main characters take on enough importance to each merit a big final number, drawing out the ending unnecessarily.
Irving, Wilder, Parker, and Edgar also had a hand in creating and writing You, making their performances all the more real and organic. They are an enjoyable bunch to watch romp around, fumbling through that quarter life crisis of figuring out how to find the “You” that completes their “I.” You didn’t alter my current dating embargo, but it did affirm that I’m not alone out there in my fear, anxiety, and trepidation. And, that I’m in damn good company.
Warning: In a refreshing twist on social norms, this play does contain full frontal MALE nudity. Oh, and a lot of cursing. But there’s nothing twisty about that. It’s just the good old fashioned kind.
Fun and disarmingly sincere, You, or Whatever I Can Get is the type of musical I long to see more often.
You, or Whatever I Can Get . Created and Written by Suzanne Edgar, Farrell Parker, Vaughn Irving, Steve Prybylski, Jason Schlafstein, and Doug Wilder . Directed by Jason Schlafstein with Musical Direction by Steve Przybylski . Featuring Suzanne Edgar, Autumn Seavey Hicks, Vaughn Irving, Farrell Parker, Doug Wilder, Ashley Milligan, Brian Kramer, Reginald Richard, and Devon Ross . Creative Team: Andrew Berry, Technical Director; Philip da Costa, Stage Manager; Lauren Evans, Master Carpenter; Kathryn Kawecki, Costume Designer; Kyle McGruther, Carpenter; Britney Mongold, Props Designer and Scenic Charge; Jos. A. Musumeci, Set Designer; Gordon NImmo-Smith, Sound Designer; Julie Roedersheimer, Asst. Technical Director; Devon Ross, Front of House Assoc.; Tia Shearer-Basset, Audience Designer; Kristin A. Thompson, Lighting Designer; Asst. Stage Manager and Choreographer, Sarah F.H. Williams. The Band: Alex Aucoin (Drums, Christopher Herring (Drums), Jason Wilson (Bass), and Steve Przybylski (Guitar) . Presented by Flying V and the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts . Reviewed by Kelly McCorkendale.