Certainly Diamond's aim, though hardly that of the Grimm story, is as unmistakable as her set-up is simple: three girls armed with formidable storybooks read the ethnically offensive "The White Bride & the Black One," inserting, along with pop-cultural fillips, some pointedly baffled commentary. And Kuntz's stylish S&M gloss on "Little Red Cap," in which Red, having abandoned her riding hood for bra, panties, and stilettos, trades dominance with a wolf figure called Victor, says something about both role playing and the strange dance between control and fear of abandonment.
Lopez's Stories About Snakes, though as cryptic as the three vignettes on which it's based, boasts a rigorous, poetical potency. ADEkoje's Sesame Street–inspired Cry Baby Jones, an urban riff on "The Frog Prince," strays far from the source material and is longer on attitude than on its stated theme of "responsibility and growing up." But its title character, as played by cocksure, full-grown Keith Mascoll in a diaper, is hard to resist. Oddest of the lot, yet also the most realistic, is Greenidge's Thanksgiving, a reworking of "Clever Else." This encounter among three young working-class mothers outside a dance class, the New Englandese dripping from their tongues like some abrasive syrup, is not a bad dissection of diminished dreams. But it has little to do with the Brothers Grimm — unless Israel Horovitz has been outed as the third sibling.
HOUNDED HOLMES: Abject silliness — not fear — is the raison d’être for this treatment of the Conan Doyle classic.
Unflappable snooping goes to the dogs in Brit writers Steven Canny & John Nicholson's comedic adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles (at Central Square Theater through August 22). This 2007 London hit is a deliberately understaffed parody in the vein of The Mystery of Irma Vep and The 39 Steps — with a meta-theatrical element inserted like Sherlock Holmes's trademark cap and cape into a valise. As directed by American Repertory Theater stalwart Thomas Derrah, the show begins as, behind a scrim and before a gloomy black-and-white drop, a large man struggles in the throes of death by fright. As this brief incarnation of recently deceased Sir Charles Baskerville squeezes out a last twitch or two, on strides costumed actor Bill Mootos to admonish us to turn off our cell phones and brace for "disturbingly high levels of theatrical tension." This leads to a small squabble among the performers with regard to histrionics interruptus and getting on with it before we are, at last, dropped onto Baker Street for a healthy dose of Holmesian arrogance and melodrama-licked exposition.
The fear factor is hardly the raison d'être for this treatment of the 1901 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle classic in which an ostensible hellhound beleaguers heirs to Baskerville Hall on the moors of Devonshire. Abject, oft-hilarious silliness is, as three actors, skulking among twirling panels and moving rocks, undertake not just the central roles of Holmes (Remo Airaldi), Dr. Watson (Mootos, proclaiming himself "the lead"), and incoming heir Sir Henry Baskerville (Trent Mills), but also a host of sinister or bewildered suspects, servants, and yokels. Fans of Airaldi from his many seasons at the ART will be pleased to know that, in addition to presenting a refreshingly irascible Holmes, he appears in variously manic female guises, among them that of a Peruvian beauty whose spoken arias are delivered in gibberish. (Fans will also wish Holmes to solve "The Mystery of Once Portly Airaldi's Missing Avoirdupois.")