THE TRANSFIGURATION OF BENNO BLIMPIE, Firstborn Productions. According to Gregory Gerhard, artistic director of Firstborn Productions, the company name comes from the notion that “the theater event is a sacrificial offering for an audience, for the good of those who witness it.” This production of Albert Innaurato’s The Transfiguration of Benno Blimpie takes itself just that seriously. The result is a ponderous evening of navel gazing, a heavy-handed cultural horror show that flattens Innaurato’s delicate and darkly funny play.

The story of Benno Blimpie, a fat boy eating himself to death as he sits in an unappealing puddle of remembered abuse, is a challenging project for a young company. Director Jim Reed and his cast take it so literally that this seems like a hellish TV movie of the week instead of the grotesque and archly surreal play I know from past productions. Firstborn’s production is a self-indulgent and tiresome sacrifice that leaves audiences with a whimper, not a bang.

–Carol Burbank