Those unfamiliar with the works of Jonathan Coulton are likely to find themselves going down the Google rabbit hole after seeing It’s the Rest of the World That Looks So Small, a theatrical revue celebrating the works of the quirky singer-songwriter.
Nineteen of the songs from the geek culture icon, whose music has appeared on everything from beloved video game soundtracks to NPR quiz shows, get the Flying V treatment. And that means everything from dance to puppetry to acrobatics is interwoven into these numbers, which range from the gently offbeat to the truly surreal.
On the wackier side of the equation, there’s “Code Monkey,” where a man (Scott Abernethy) dons an actual monkey suit as he sings about his love of simple joys like Fritos and his struggles to approach the beautiful receptionist down the hall. Or the plaintive “I Crush Everything,” sung by a puppet Kraken (vocals by Carl Willams) who just can’t stop sending those lovely white ships down to the bottom of the ocean to be with him. “The Future Soon,” admittedly one of the show’s weaker songs vocally, feels like something straight out of “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” with its resentful antihero and his dreams of killer robots.
Though parts of The Rest of the World lean zany (there is, for an example, a pulsing anthem to the undersung Olympic sport, curling), Coulton also has his share of simple love songs, with a stilted desire for connection as an enduring theme. There’s the sweet unrequited love story, “Drinking With You,” the exploration of suburban monotony “Shop Vac,” and even the comic book-friendly “Skullcrusher Mountain” —because don’t super villains deserve love, too? They at least find worthy adversaries in the fight choreography-peppered “Nemeses.”
It’s the Rest of the World That Looks So Small: A Theatrical Revue of Jonathan Coulton
closes February 24, 2018
Details and tickets
Individual harmonies have the occasional pitch problem, but The Rest of the World is performed by a talented troupe of singers who leap their way across the sprawling, multi-level, celestial-themed rotating set with ease. The sweet-voiced Victoria Meyers is among the group’s standout dancers, while Kristin Cardinal proves an unassuming vocal heavyweight. Particularly gorgeous is a quartet that brings all four female singers together in harmony: “When You Go,” a goodbye song for proud parents with children leaving the nest.
Less than a dozen people were in the audience for the Sunday matinee of It’s the Rest of the World That Looks So Small — here’s hoping some football game was to blame. Flying V deserves a larger audience for this appropriately unique introduction to an unusual songwriting talent.
It’s the Rest of the World That Looks So Small: A Theatrical Revue of Jonathan Coulton runs through Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Silver Spring Box Theater. Original music and lyrics by Jonathan Coulton. Directed and conceived by jason Schlafstein and Vaughn Irving. Musical direction and arrangement from Steve Przbylski and Jon Jon Johnson. Puppet design by Philip da Costa. Choreography from Jamie Doughty and Robert Brown Smith. With Scott Abernethy, Kristin Cardinal, Victoria Meyers, Gianna Rapp, Seth Rosenke, Carl Williams, Ashley Zielinski. Produced by Flying V Theatre . Reviewed by Missy Frederick.