The story of the sisters Procne and Philomela is one of the truly gruesome Greek myths, full of rape and murder and bloody mutilation — but also, and this is rather nice, tremendous sibling devotion. For “Weightless,” a smart retelling of it as an indie-rock opera by the Bay Area band the Kilbanes, that love is the core of the legend.

“Weightless,” at BRIC House in Brooklyn though Sunday as part of the Under the Radar festival, feels only about a half step into myth from our world, and that’s a good thing. It’s just far enough to accommodate a sardonic god (Julia Brothers) who amuses herself by taking an interest in Procne (Kate Kilbane, also the band’s bassist) and Philomela (Lila Blue, appealingly sultry).

“One day Procne’s father told her that he was going to marry her off to some local half-wit,” the god tells us, and in the Kilbanes’ version of the story, Procne and Philomela flee to a cabin on the ocean, where they build a happy, self-sufficient life. Until, that is, a hunter named Tereus (Josh Pollock, who doubles as the guitarist) happens along.

He’s creepy, but Procne is too curious about him to hear any blaring alarm bells. She accompanies him to his island and is soon pregnant. When she’s ready to give birth, Philomela flies to her side. Tragedy ensues.

Written by Ms. Kilbane and Dan Moses, the married couple who lead the Kilbanes (Mr. Moses is also the show’s music director and keyboard player), “Weightless” is an accomplished work, and an entertaining one. The Kilbanes banish rape from the narrative in favor of pleasurable sex, and shape the story with female voices.

Unlike so many pieces of music theater, “Weightless” has a well-crafted form, and its spoken dialogue melds beautifully with the propulsive score. For a tale of a passionate, unbreakable bond, though, it is somehow not as moving, not as intensely felt an experience, as it needs to be.

The trouble is partly the physical design of Becca Wolff’s production, particularly projections (by Hana S. Kim) that rarely enhance the storytelling. But the show is also a little too well behaved, not risking the sometimes thrilling messiness of the Bengsons, say, or César Alvarez and the Lisps. There is a loveliness to “Weightless,” yet there’s no vital moment or two of astonishing beauty that would raise it to the next level.

To a huge degree, festivals like Under the Radar are about producers and presenters scouting fresh work to bring to new audiences. Here’s hoping that the Kilbanes find someone eager to support them in nurturing “Weightless” up a notch.


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Through Sunday at BRIC House, 647 Fulton Street, Brooklyn; 212-967-7555, Running time: 1 hour 15 minutes.

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