Bold, gallant heroes; terrifying, grim monsters; beautiful young love; fear; heroism; nostalgia; excitement: these are just a few of the things you’ll experience at Heroes & Monsters. In its first show since being named the 2015 Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company by the Helen Hayes Awards, Flying V Theatre proved just why it deserves the title and award.
Directors Jonathan Ezra Rubin and Jason Schlafstein created a simply masterful work. Heroes & Monsters goes through 13 independent scenes. The directors think of this style of show as an album for theatre. Each different scene would be like a song in an album. Though each unique, they all fit together. What holds them all together is one common theme: they all include battles between heroes and monsters; battles between good and evil. Each is unique, thought-provoking, beautiful, and powerful. Many are also wickedly funny.
The ensemble consists of the talented Tim Torre, Lee Liebeskind, Ryan Tumulty, Madeline Whiting, Megan Reichelt, Tori Bertocci, Robert Bowen Smith, and Jon Jon Johnson. All eight of these skilled performers are phenomenal dancers and excellent actors. They each are successfully able to convey a large breadth of emotions, both positive and negative. In one or two of the 13 different stories, it was not exactly clear to me what was happening. Even then, the emotion displaye by the actors, along with their excellent, expressive movements, made it so that these scenes were still wildly entertaining.
Each character got a chance to be both heroes and monsters in some of the many scenes portrayed. However, the fear instilled by the many dreaded monsters was not just a result of the stellar acting and choreography of the scenes, but also the lighting which set the mood and tone of each scene brilliantly. Lighting Designer Kristen Thompson did a magnificent job creating everything from eerie lightning to a disco party to soft kitchen lighting and everything in between. The lighting was an integral part of the drama, the humor, and the overall fun.
Scenic and Props Designer Andrea Moore had a tall task. In order to have 13 unique scenes, 13 unique sets were required. Moore handled it well and each setting was easily discernable from the others, even though they were markedly simple. In fact, their simplicity was essential as the success of the show was predicated on the amount of space in which the ensemble had to move. The more open space, the better for the expressive choreography.
Jonathan Rubin was the fight director and the fights were the highlight and the main point of the show. Some of the fights were awesomely intense. Some were comically ridiculous. Some were whimsical. All were thrilling. The program claims that “in this show, the body is our canvas.” I initially didn’t understand this claim. After seeing the mostly wordless but meaningful show, it made perfect sense. The amount of expression these performers were able to show without using words was amazing.
The costumes, designed by Brittany Graham, were, like the sets, simple but fitting. Many of the actors would change from their characters of one scene to their characters of the next scene on stage – as the running crews changed the set in the darkness behind them. This was a great way to keep the show moving.
Flying V Fights: Heroes & Monsters is fast-paced, exhilaratingly fun, painfully honest, dramatic as hell, passionate, and a wonderfully good time. Please, if you like yourself, go and see it.
Running Time: 90 minutes, with no intermission.
Flying V Fights: Heroes and Monsters plays through June 28, 2015 at Flying V Theatre performing at the Writer’s Center – 4508 Walsh Street, in Bethesda, MD. For tickets, purchase them online, or at the door.