Mix smart, crisply funny dialogue, mythological high jinks, a reality television slant and superb cast and you get “Twins,” Stuart Bousel’s consistently engaging riff on the legend of Artemis and Apollo.
From the smartass “turn off your phones” opening voiceover, through the snarky Robin Leach-meets-“Masterpiece Theatre” primer on Greek mythology, this production aims to keep its tongue in cheek and a smile on your lips.
Fear not! Intimate knowledge of Olympian begats is not a prerequisite for following the story, which covers nighttime soap tropes of marital infidelities, family feuds and, of course, revenge.
If, however, you can distinguish between Orpheus and Orion, then there are many subtle delights to be had in seemingly throwaway lines, often delivered with “Downton Abbey” panache.
Playwright Stuart Bousel (TBA Award-winner for “Everybody Here Says Hello”) has a gift for smart, rapidly-cascading dialogue that provides an abundance of exposition and character insight without ever feeling talky.
He’s also lucky to have a director like Stuart Bousel (“The House of Yes” at Custom Made Theatre Co.), who can take the rich text and context — with eight actors on the tiny PianoFight stage — and let it flow beautifully, building momentum from one sequence to the next without bogging down.
There are no weak links in the cast.
As the titular twins, Kathleen McHatton is a spunky if occasionally hard-headed Artemis, determined to be beholding to or held by no male, divine or human.
Her mirror is Kyle Goldman, an Apollo with golden locks, and impossibly concave physique and a put-on superficiality that masks more self-awareness than he’d like anyone to see.
The other six actors each triple to serve up a “Clash of the Titans” gamut of 18 deities of various import, from a Southern-fried Pan (Andrew Chung) to a blue-collar Eros (Kyle McReddie).
Kim Saunders whips up some serious Brit hauteur as Rhea, grandmother to Apollo, and then unpins her hair for a sensuous Selene.
Tonya Narvaez is a hysterical real housewife of Mount Olympus as Hera, wife of Zeus, played with aplomb by Ron Talbot.
Laura Domingo struts some Minnie Driver spunk as Iris, the rainbow, and a fabulously played monologue as Cassandra.
With minimal set, few effects and clever costume touches by Lindsey Eifert, “Twins” is a deeply satisfying examplar of what a small theater company can do with an intelligent script, inventive direction and wonderfully talented actors.
Presented by PianoFight
Where: Second Stage, PianoFight, 144 Taylor St., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; closes June 10
Tickets: $20 to $40