A ship-mangling giant squid, a mad scientist on a wolf-infested mountain, a jaded news anchor nursing apocalyptic visions — there’s no shortage of striking images in Flying V Theatre’s latest show, “It’s the Rest of the World That Looks So Small: A Theatrical Revue of Jonathan Coulton.” But the high point of this uneven yet resourceful production is probably the peppy song about the suicidal vampire.
In “Blue Sunny Day,” the depressed bloodsucker (the fine Carl Williams) hunkers down in his coffin. Meanwhile, outside his house, a routine morning unfolds: A bluebird flies by, a health nut goes for a jog. The Flying V production makes good use of a turntable here: It quickens the jogger’s stride and speeds up the winging bluebird (a plush toy in an actor’s hand), creating a keyed-up atmosphere that contrasts all the more with the vampire’s glumness.
As pop instrumentals romp in the background, we get a bit of double vision: the monstrous within the everyday. Melancholy amid cheer.
Not every sequence in “It’s the Rest of the World” is as successful. The singing in the show can be unpolished, and, in general, the performances and some of the visuals (the sights in the mad scientist’s lair, for instance) suggest a precocious collegiate undertaking rather than a fine-tuned professional effort.
But there’s no denying Flying V’s affinity with Coulton, the singer-songwriter known for his witty, geekdom-informed songs, which include matter-of-fact sci-fi fantasias and portraits of yearning office drones. Both Coulton and Flying V explore off-the-beaten-track ideas with arch humor.
So there’s justification for this two-hour production, conceived and directed by Jason Schlafstein and Vaughn Irving and performed with a live band at the Silver Spring Black Box Theatre. As actors and musicians sing roughly 20 Coulton songs, the cast brings the lyrics to life through fantastical or wryly mundane tableaux, with the help of puppetry (designed by Philip da Costa), colorful props (think futuristic ray guns) and fights (directed by Jonathan Ezra Rubin). Meanwhile, high over the rock-concert-like stage, dangling orbs — including at least one disco ball — complement story lines about planets, space travel and existential angst.
Piquant touches include the puppet version of the giant squid, who pulls ships down to the sea floor in “I Crush Everything.” Costume designer Sydney Moore came up with the eye-catching trousers featured in “Mr. Fancy Pants,” which imagines two preening men (Seth Rosenke and Williams) showing off their waist-down garb. In a soberer vein, “Today With Your Wife” paints a touching portrait of loss, complete with mourners (Ashley Zielinski and Williams) and a tombstone.
Notwithstanding the weaknesses in “It’s the Rest of the World,” it’s bracing to catch a show that — as with other Flying V works — ventures beyond routine theatrical form and subject matter. You can’t help feeling that, were the dejected vampire and squid to visit Silver Spring, this would inspire them with a cheering sense of possibility.
The Silver Spring Black Box Theatre, 8641 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring. flyingvtheatre.com.
Dates: Through Feb. 24.