The annual Festival of Independent Theatres is underway at the Bath House Cultural Center. Opening night featured two of the eight shows by companies too small to have their own permanent spaces. Instead of a dazzling launch for the four-weekend fest, however, the productions by PrismCo and Nouveau 47 were duds.
Dallas playwright Jim Kuenzer's Metamorphosis II has Kafka's Gregor Samsa (Ben Bryant in a glued-on black mustache) awakening to find he's no longer a cockroach; he's a human again. But his family (Lulu Ward, John Flores, Diana Gonzales, all overacting) are stars of a reality TV show and they don't want to lose the gig. More unpolished, overlong comedy sketch than one-act play, the piece sends Gregor into an Apple store for commentary on computer products and then to his employers, where he doesn't comprehend their modern corporate HR jargon. Directed by Donny Covington for Nouveau 47, Metamorphosis II takes a classic story and commits literary insecticide.
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PrismCo's Playtime, written by and starring Jeffrey Colangelo, is a wordless act involving three clowns wearing pillowcases over their heads, a man in footie pajamas behaving like a toddler, a cardboard box, some balloons, some masking tape, a flashlight and occasional ear-piercing screams. For 45 minutes. But I've made it sound better than it was.