BWW Reviews: GRUESOME PLAYGROUND INJURIES - Altogether Intriguing
Back to the Article
by Jill Siekman
What happens when two people can't deal with their messed up lives? Gruesome Playground Injures. And things were gruesome for them, indeed.
Presented by Know Theatre, Gruesome Playground Injuries tells the story of Kayleen (Beth Harris), a troubled girl who deals with emotional pain, manifested as recurring stomach pains, cutting, or an array of drugs from the psychiatrist, and Doug (Jens Rasmussen), who's reason for pain wasn't quite established but he dealt with it by constantly getting into accidents or being at the wrong place at the wrong time (like a rooftop during an electrical storm).
The play takes place in just eight scenes, but even though the timeline isn't chronological, it worked at Know and it was interesting to see how something alluded to in a previous scene later played out in another. The scenes are brief, long enough for the couple to reunite and catch you up on what's been going on in their lives and then they're off and jumping to another moment.
Because of the unique storyline of the play based solely on the eight meetings of the two couples throughout thirty years, scene changes could have been boring or brought the play to a complete halt while you waited for them to reset themselves as another age for their characters. But instead the audience gets a rare glimpse at the preparation an actor goes through to change and apply stage makeup (and often makeup that includes bruises or bleeding cuts) just to the side of the set - close enough to kind of see and wonder what's going on over there, yet away from the main pieces of the stage. Even their changes were choreographed and staged in a cooperative, couple-like manner, with Rasmussen comically lighting a cigarette for Harris before going back on stage, or the way Harris held out the backpack for Rasmussen to put on. Watching the way the two danced around each other to prepare was just as interesting as the way they connected on stage.
Rasmussen and Harris play their complex characters very well. They have the subtle nuances of Kayleen and Doug down, from the foot tapping or twitching Kayleen does to the way an awkward eight-year-old boy would sit. Their dialogue is delivered at a fast pace, instantly reacting in an often-sarcastic manner.
The dark comedy of Gruesome Playground Injuries will leave you with a lot of questions about the characters and why they are what they are, but yet intrigued as well.
Gruesome Playground Injuries onstage now through November 5th at the Know Theatre. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 the week of the performance. Call 513-300-5669 or visit www.knowtheatre.com for more information and tickets.