BWW Reviews: Capital T Theatre Explores a Dysfunctional Friendship with GRUESOME PLAYGROUND INJURIES
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by Jeff Davis
We've all had one at one point in our life. That one friend who we know we probably shouldn't have in our life that for some reason has burrowed his or her way in and just won't leave, probably because for some inexplicable reason we don't want them to. That type of unhealthy friendship is at the core of Capital T's production of Gruesome Playground Injuries, a highly entertaining and engrossing dramedy about the friends we just can't shake.
The text by young up-and-coming playwright Rajiv Joseph is extremely enjoyable despite its spastic nature. The fast-paced, episodic two person play follows the friendship between Doug, a wannabe daredevil who often isn't able to complete his stunts without earning a new battle scar, and Kayleen, a fragile young woman who is both drawn to and repulsed by Doug's antics. As the jumbled scenes go back and forth in time through the 30 year friendship, Joseph gives us an intoxicating mix of frat boy gross out humor (there is one very funny but very disgusting scene involving vomit), darkly comic zingers, and well-crafted insights about the nature of friendship and our need to connect with others, no matter how bizarre or crazy they may be.
Director Kelsey Kling has an incredibly strong directorial debut with the piece. The pacing is quick and the relationship between the two characters often feels like an epic game of tug of war. Her choice to have her actors transform themselves on stage between scenes, though suggested in Joseph's stage directions, is a brilliant move; it keeps the play actor-driven, and watching Jason Newman as Doug apply his gory wounds in the matter of seconds is amazing.
Kling's skill also shines through in her casting choices. Jason Newman and Laura Artesi are both quite capable of handling the comedic and dramatic elements of Joseph's play. Newman brings a frantic energy to Doug, particularly in the scenes that allow him to play a younger Doug, and Artesi plays Kayleen as a woman who's feelings for Doug oscillate between hate and love.
With its quirky script, impressive performances, and astounding direction, Gruesome Playground Injuries is a triumph. If you're in the mood for an anti-rom-com, this is a must see.
Recommended for mature audiences.
Running time: Approximately 80 minutes with no intermission.
GRUESOME PLAYGROUND INJURIES plays the Salvage Vanguard Theatre at 2803 Manor Road, Austin TX. Performances are Monday February 4th thru Wednesday February 6th at 8pm. Tickets are $15. VIP tickets are $25 and include premium seating and a complementary drink.
For tickets and information, please visit www.capitalt.org